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Jobless rates rise

While rising prices are putting the pinch on individual and family budgets, the higher costs to do business is also affecting the labor market.

Unemployment rates increased in 82 of the state’s 100 counties in June, according to the statistics released late last week by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission (ESC).

The four counties that comprise the Roanoke-Chowan region (Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton) were among the 82 to experience a hike in the number of those unemployed.

“The effect of the national economy is being felt in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties,” state ESC Chairman Harry Payne Jr. said. “While the number of counties that had increasing rates is fewer than the previous month, we see that the rising price of gasoline is having an impact on the labor force.”

Payne said his office has noticed that the pace had dropped in the number of employers looking for employees.

“Even during the busy summer months, it appears employers have reduced hiring, making it a much tighter job market,” Payne noted.

Locally, unemployment rates for June rose by a half percentage point or less in each R-C area county.

Gates County noted the largest jump, up by 0.5 percent (5.5% in June as compared to 5.0% in May). A total of 285 Gates County individuals, from a labor force numbering 5,204 workers, were without jobs in June. The county’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent one year ago.

Bertie County’s unemployment rate increased by 0.4 percent between May and June (7.1% as compared to 6.7% two months ago). The county lists a workforce of 9,144 laborers, of which 648 were unemployed last month. Bertie’s jobless rate at the same time last year stood at 5.9 percent.

Hertford County also experienced a 0.4 percent increase in the number of workers without jobs. Of the county’s 10,349 workers, 703 (6.8 percent) were without jobs in June, up from 6.4 percent the previous month. At the same time last year, Hertford County’s unemployment rate was listed at 5.7 percent.

Northampton County had the area’s highest unemployment rate (7.2 percent) during the month of June, but the lowest increase from the previous month (6.9 percent). The county has a workforce totaling 9,431. In June, 680 of those individuals were without employment. Northampton’s jobless rate in June of 2007 stood at 6.3 percent.

Statewide, 283,965 workers were unemployed in June, representing a jobless rate of 6.2 percent, up from 5.8 percent in May. Last June, the state listed an unemployment rate of 5.0 percent.

Currituck County had the state’s lowest jobless rate (3.4 percent) in June while Scotland County had the highest (10.7 percent).

June jobless numbers from other northeastern North Carolina counties were: Camden (4.9%), Chowan (8.1%), Dare (4.1%), Edgecombe (10.5%), Halifax (8.6%), Martin (6.7%), Pasquotank (6.7%), Perquimans (6.3%), Tyrrell (5.8%), Warren (8.3%) and Washington (7.1%).