I’ve had the opportunity to speak to some of you and you have heard my main issue is the job losses facing our community.

Below is what those job losses look like in chart form:

The chart above was drawn using data available to anyone on the NC Employment Security Commission web site. It only goes back to 1990 but clearly we have returned to job levels of 25+ years ago.

This is average annual employment so the 2011 numbers are not complete and posted.

Also, the annual averages represent a lower than actual total drop in jobs. Our peak employment in June 2000 of 183,837 is 40,041 jobs above where we were this past October when we hit 143,796. And that latest jobs number is 2,749 jobs lower than in October a year ago (please forgive me if I round that to 3000 when speaking).

You may wonder why I am talking about jobs when the news always talks about the unemployment rate.

Jobs tell us how many people are actually working. Jobs drive the local economy. Everything from retail sales to the value of your home to local tax revenues depend on a healthy jobs environment.

The unemployment percentage is a little different. The unemployment rate is a comparison of the total Labor Force compared to those unemployed folks that are looking for work. The thing is, if everyone that didn’t have a job suddenly stopped looking, you might read in the paper that unemployment was zero, but it would not be a good thing.

So, jobs, not the unemployment rate is what we need to pay attention to.

I am not telling you this to depress you. I am sharing this because knowledge is power.

Before we can correct a problem, we must understand, define and clarify that problem.

I look forward to continuing our conversation and I need your help and support.