The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 10, 2013

Unemployment rate continues dip

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer

Thursday, October 10, 2013 — One thing is for sure about the latest unemployment numbers: nobody’s complaining.

The state unemployment level dropped from 9.1 percent in July to 8.3 percent in August, according to numbers released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce's Division of Employment Security. It is the biggest one-month drop for the state since 2009, when employment dropped from 10.4 to 9.5 during the first two months of the year.

The good news extended to Stanly County, where the rate dropped from 8.8 to 8.1. It’s the biggest decrease since February, when unemployment dropped from 10.1 to 9.3. It is also the lowest rate for Stanly County since October 2008, when employment clocked in at 7.6 percent, right at the start of the Great Recession.

The unemployment fell .7 percent or more in 69 of the 100 counties.

“I was surprised at the numbers, pleasantly surprised to see the rate in Stanly County drop from 8.8 to 8.1. It did drop in 98 of North Carolina’s counties. I was surprised at the variation in the counties that dropped,” said Donnie Mann, acting manager of the Division of Workforce Solutions in Albemarle.

“We did see an increase in job orders, mainly in retail. We also saw some increase in construction and maintenance-type employment. Maybe that’s a sign, as we’ve been hearing the housing market has been improving. But nothing this outstanding.”

Larry Parker, acting public information director for the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security, pointed to teachers and other government officials going back to work as a big reason for the change in numbers.

“August is that month where government adds a lot of jobs because people go back working for the school systems. So local governments tend to have a big increase,” Parker said.

“Of course, while you gain a lot of government workers, you lose a lot of people from those summertime jobs because they are going away. People leave the labor force to go back to school, they are just not working now. Those things happen.

“That’s one of the tricky things about August, and you’ll even see a bit in September. While I don’t want to predict that, it’s something we typically see.”

As an example, government jobs grew 7.1 percent in the the Asheville market, 16.2 percent in the Burlington market, 20.5 percent in the Charlotte market, 8.0 percent in the Triangle market, 3.9 percent in the Fayetteville market and 10 percent in the Greensboro/High Point market.

That would seem to be supported by trends in previous years during this particular season in Stanly County. Unemployment dropped from July to August .4 percent in 2012, .3 percent in 2011 and .2 percent in 2010. In fact, unemployment dropped every year between the two months except for 2008, 2000, 1999 and 1991-93.

And the .8 percent drop isn’t the biggest number ever. Unemployment drop-ped 3.3 percent from 8.4 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August 1995.

“It’s a trend we want to continue to see, seeing these numbers decrease, the unemployment numbers decrease. We haven’t seen by a large number a steady increase in job orders,” Mann said.

“I know it’s a little early to consider Christmas season, but I guess retail could be gearing up for that or starting to gear up for that.”

Scotland County still has the highest unemployment rate at 15.2 percent while Currituck has the lowest at 4.1 percent. The 8.1 for Albemarle and Stanly County is sixth lowest in the state among micropolitan areas that include Lumberton, Laurinburg, Rockingham and Salisbury.

Stanly County currently ranks 36th among the 100 counties in unemployment, a drop from 33rd last month. In neighboring counties, Stanly ranks ahead of Anson (10.1, 81st), Richmond (11.0, 88th), Rowan (8.5, 48th), Davidson (8.7, 55th) and Mecklenburg (8.5, 45th) and behind Union (7.2, 18th) and Cabarrus (7.7, 28th).

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 21 or email at jason@stanly