The month also saw the statewide figured decrease from 11.1 percent to 10.8.
“So, we’ve seen the unemployment decrease to 12.9 percent,” N.C. Employment Security Commission Rockingham Office Manager Jack Haliburton said. “I think we’ll continue to see that change throughout the summer months, and really into the fall. We should continue to see the service industry hire as they gain confidence in what is going on, and other industries, as well. To see that drop is great for Richmond County though.”
Regionally, Richmond County’s drop is better than some but worse than others.
Anson and Montgomery counties both saw their rates drop over a percentage point, while Scotland and Moore didn’t quite do as well as Richmond, but had drops of .8 and .7, respectively.
Stanly County saw the biggest drop of 1.2 percent among Richmond’s contiguous neighbors.
While conditions for hiring are improving, Haliburton said the ESC continues to see around 130 to 150 people walk through their door each day.
“We’ve definitely had some jobs trickling into the county over the past couple of months,” Haliburton said. “We’ve also been working with some employers to get their job listings corrected, and it’s been very encouraging to see people being hired.”
He said Hood Packaging recently hired 25 or 30 people, Plastek has already employed some former Rexam workers and the U.S. Census Bureau also provided some positions.
“There also been sparse hiring in the county for services, primarily state employees,” Haliburton explained. “So, some people have been able to capitalize on American Recovery and Reinvestment (stimulus) funds. That’s probably had the biggest impact on employment throughout the state.”
He said other opportunities are available for county workers willing to travel about 30 miles, with several employers in Scotland County hiring workers who hold a Career Readiness Certificate from Richmond Community College.
The John W. Pope Civitas Foundation of Raleigh issued a release earlier in the week reporting state government hiring, which has buoyed unemployment rates for the past year and a half through the recession, actually dates back farther than late-2008.
Their research shows the private sector lost about 50,000 jobs, or 1.6 percent, of its jobs from December 2001 to December 2009, while state government grew about 12 percent, adding about 35,000 positions.
The N.C. Justice Center also tempered the optimism inspired by hiring across the state for the past two months this week with caution in their own release this week.
In the release, Justice Center Budget Analyst Alexandra Forter Sirota calls for leaders to continue to implement targeted job creation strategies.
“The decline in unemployment numbers for the second month in a row is a good sign, but the damage created by this recession is so significant, we still have a long way to go,” Sirota said.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.