Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama don't go long at campaign stops before uttering an applause-inducing, four-letter word: jobs. Each has detailed plans to create millions of them.
But in historical context, the labor market isn't that bad -- particularly in North Carolina. Nationally, the jobless rate is 5.1 percent. Here, it's 5.2 percent.
Back in 1982, the national rate rose as high as 10.8 percent. As recently as January 2002, the North Carolina rate was 7 percent.
Yes, the U.S. lost almost a quarter million jobs -- 232,000 -- in the first three months of the year. In 2001, though, it shed 325,000 in October alone.
There's no doubt the economy has slowed and recession might already have taken hold. But talk with voters in the Triangle and you'll find them most interested in the quality of jobs.
People are struggling to make ends meet. At least 219,000 in the state work multiple jobs just to keep up.
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