The employment outlook for the Winston-Salem area is slightly less bright for the fourth quarter.

According to a Manpower Inc. survey scheduled for release today, 28% of employers in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes and Yadkin counties plan to add jobs, down from 29% both in the third quarter and a year ago.

Still, the fourth-quarter projections remain near a high not experienced since the start of the Great Recession of 2008-11.

The hiring projection for Winston-Salem area ranks second among the four North Carolina metropolitan statistical areas surveyed, as well as even with the 28% expecting to add jobs statewide.

The number of Winston-Salem area employers expecting to eliminate jobs jumped to 4% from 2% in the third quarter and 1% a year ago.

That means the Winston-Salem area has a net positive employment outlook of 24%, also second among the four metro areas.

The Greensboro-High Point MSA had 33% of employers planning to hire in the quarter — up from 25% a year ago, but down from 34% in the third quarter. The number expecting to decrease staff was at 5%, up from 4% in the third quarter and a year ago.

The increased hiring projections come as the Triad’s jobless rate was at a six-month high of 4.5% in July. The rate was at a near 18-year low of 3% in September 2018.

According to Manpower, local hiring prospects for the fourth quarter are positive for six of the 11 private-sector categories: construction; financial activities; wholesale and retail trade; information technology; professional and business services; and leisure and hospitality. Government hiring is also expected to trend upward.

Hiring is projected to be flat in transportation and utilities, education and health services, and other services, while job cuts are forecast in durable goods manufacturing and nondurable goods manufacturing.

The North Carolina economy stayed in neutral during July, but remains down 8% from a year ago, according to an index compiled by economics professor Michael Walden of N.C. State University. The latest index was released Aug. 29.

The index measures leading state economic indicators, such as manufacturing employment hours and wages, residential building permits and initial jobless claims. It ordinarily serves as a forecast of the state economy four to six months out. The data is seasonally adjusted.

“Job growth in North Carolina and across the county has been markedly lower than 2018 and far below the levels produced between 2014 and 2016,” said Patrick McHugh, senior public policy analyst with left-leaning N.C. Budget & Tax Center.

“The most recent jobs figures indicate North Carolina added roughly 76,000 jobs from July 2018 to July 2019, a growth rate of only 1.6%.”

Since July 2018, the Winston-Salem metro area has had a net gain of 6,900 jobs, highlighted by 2,500 in education and health services, 1,500 in leisure and hospitality, 900 each in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, and professional and business services, and 800 in manufacturing.

“In comparison to the period between 2015 and 2016, when North Carolina was adding more than 100,000 jobs a year, employment growth over the past six months has been alarmingly weak,” McHugh said.

“Slumping job growth increases the risk North Carolina will not escape the crater left behind by the Great Recession before the next downturn arrives. North Carolina is still 380,000 jobs shy of what it would take to get back to pre-recession levels of employment.

“Forty of North Carolina’s 100 counties have fewer jobs today than before the Great Recession, and 13 of those counties actually lost jobs in the last year.”

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rcraver@wsjournal.com

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