Richmond County Daily Journal
Richmond County saw its number of jobless residents fall over the month of August, as did the majority of the state.
Richmond unemployment fell four-tenths of a percentage point to reach 12.8, while 82 of the state’s 100 counties also saw their rates drop.
Statewide, unemployment is no longer in the double digits after the strong showing, as it fell two-tenths of a percentage point to reach 9.8.
“You’re going to continue to see a mild decline in the next couple of months,” North Carolina Employment Security Commission Rockingham Local Office Manager Jack Haliburton said. “It’s going to happen. There are some companies hiring, and we’ll also see holiday hiring very soon. Then, as new employers come in, we should continue to see that steady decline.”
Haliburton said he wasn’t optimistic that Richmond County will see pre-recession jobless figures soon.
“That’s a long road to travel to get back to where we were, and the economy will have to do a lot of improvement,” he said. “Right now, though, it’s not terribly bad, and we’ll continue to see that mild decline in the coming months.”
He did, however, say the up-tick in work across the state is most likely a sign of improving economic conditions rather than seasonal employment.
ESC Chairman Lynn Holmes noted in a release that while conditions have improved somewhat across the state, many rural areas are still mired in the recession that began in 2008.
“While the rates have lowered, current economic conditions continue to be a challenge for many communities across North Carolina,” Holmes said.
The number of counties with an unemployment rate at 10 percent or above fell from 55 in July to 50 in August. Only one county - Currituck - had an unemployment rate below 5 percent either month.
Scotland County maintained the highest unemployment in the state through the month of August despite dropping six-tenths of a percentage point to reach 15.7.
In Moore and Hoke counties, it’s a different story entirely. Hoke has maintained single-digit unemployment throughout 2010, though it actually rose two-tenths to reach 8.7 in August.
Moore County got below double-digits a couple of months ago, and saw no change in its rate of 8.9 from July to August.
Job prevalence mirrors that of Richmond in Anson and Montgomery. Both saw identical four-tenths of a percentage point drops in their jobless rates, and Anson now has a rate of 12.5 while Montgomery has a rate of 12.2. Stanly County fared a little better than its neighbors to the east over the past couple of months, and saw improvement on its 11.5 posting in July to reach 11.3 in August.
Statewide, both the numbers of those employed and unemployed decreased in August, with 23,241 less workers than July, and 13,368 getting back to work.
Some analysts have attributed apparent misnomers such as this to long-term unemployed simply giving up on job seeking or reaching the end of their unemployment insurance benefits.
One analyst saw the slight decreases in August as nominal.
“The basic local employment picture was unchanged in August,” South by North Strategies, Ltd. John Quinterno said in a release. “Although conditions in some communities improved somewhat, joblessness and the accompanying problems remained widespread.”
He also noted recovery has been slower in rural areas of North Carolina, where the reduction of unemployment rates has been inflated by a reduction of people actively seeking work.
“Labor markets in non-metropolitan communities remain quite weak,” Quinterno said. “Last month, 10.6 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.4 percent of the metro one. More alarmingly, the non-metropolitan labor force continued to shrink. Between August 2009 and August 2010, non-metropolitan labor contracted by 2.5 percent. Many of those missing individuals are effectively jobless.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.