Jobless rates rise

Published 9:44 am Monday, January 7, 2013

RALEIGH — Unemployment rates increased in 81 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in November, including each county in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

However, when compared to the same month in 2011, unemployment rates declined in 95 counties, with significant decreases in Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton.

According to the November 2012 data released earlier this week by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the state had 34 counties that were at or below the non seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.0 percent. Unemployment rates increased in 11 of the state’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

The number of workers employed (not seasonally adjusted) decreased in November by 22,002 to 4,321,229, while those unemployed rose 6,570 to 424,893. Since November 2011, the number of workers unemployed decreased by 45,145, while those employed increased 125,439.

Locally, the number of those unemployed in November 2012 rose in all four counties when compared to October. Bertie’s jobless rate stood at 11.4 percent (up from 11.2%); while the unemployment percentage also rose in Gates (7.2%, up from 6.9%), Hertford (9.8%, up from 9.6%), and Northampton (10.4%, up from 10.1%).

Statewide, November’s 9.0 percent jobless rate was slightly higher than October (8.8%).

However, the percentage of those without jobs is significantly lower than it was in November of 2011. At that time, Bertie’s unemployment rate was 12.3 percent; Gates saw 7.5 percent of its workforce without jobs; Hertford’s jobless number was 11 percent and Northampton checked in at 11.9 percent.

“The November 2012 job numbers are also significant in another way,” stated Dr. Mike Walden, a professor and North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics of N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “North Carolina’s growth in jobs since the bottom of the recession (February 2010) now exceeds the comparable growth rate in jobs at the national level.”

Specifically, Walden said that from February 2010 to November 2012, North Carolina added jobs at a 3.8 percent rate, compared to 3.6 percent for the nation. Also, both North Carolina’s and the nation’s unemployment rates have now dropped 2.3 percentage points from their peak.

“Of course, the state is by no means out of the woods from the job losses suffered during the recession,” Walden noted. “Manufacturing always gets hit harder during economic downturns due the ability of buyers to postpone purchases of durable products. In the 2007-2009 recession, manufacturing fell twice as fast as the overall economy. And because North Carolina has a much bigger chunk of its economy in manufacturing, twice as much as the nation in terms of sales value, recessions always hit our state harder. The state lost eight percent of its job base during the recession, compared to six percent for the nation.

“Yet the fact that our state’s job growth in the last three years has now exceeded the nation’s pace is encouraging. The question is will it continue, and there are several reasons to a yes answer,” Walden concluded.