The economic pinch has been harder here than in most states. Job creation in North Carolina has lagged behind the rest of nation. But finally, there's some good encouraging news.
Raleigh construction worker Gavin Whitehorn is counting on 2012 to be the year jobs start coming back.
"It's just not the same as it used to be, used to be pretty easy," said Whitehorn. "Just went out and did what you had to. Now you've got to go and look for it, like anybody else."
There's new signs North Carolina's painfully slow economic recovery may finally be heating up. NC state Economics Professor Mike Walden makes a bold prediction.
"I'm predicting we'll see 40,000 to 50,000 jobs created in North Carolina in 2012," said Walden. "Compared to the 20,000 created in 2011."
It's a forecast for an economic turnaround. Walden's latest index of economic indicators is encouraging. Jobless claims are down across the state. North Carolinians are working slightly more hours and earning slightly more money. It adds up to 1.9 percent jump, which marks two straight months of growth. The state's economy is still down for the year, but Walden thinks the turnaround will stick.
"It certainly doesn't mean we're going to see the unemployment rate go down to 5 percent but it looks like we may start the year with a more robust economy than we're used to," said Walden.
The state's unemployment rate stands at 10 percent, which is above the national average. Walden predicts it will drop below 9 percent this year.