Stanly’s unemployment falls to 3.5 percent, lowest level since before pandemic

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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In a sign the local economy appears to continue to improve, Stanly County’s September unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, the lowest it’s been since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stanly had 1,048 people unemployed in September, a decrease from the 1,218 people unemployed in August, when the rate was 4.0 percent.

Stanly appears to be in considerably better shape statistically now compared to the same time last year, when the September 2020 unemployment rate was almost 5.7 percent.

The last time the rate was this low was in February 2020, a few weeks before the onset of the pandemic, when it was 3.4 percent.

But even with less people unemployed than in previous months, many people are still struggling. More than a dozen bus drivers last week participated in a walkout because they felt they were not being adequately compensated by the school system. Many fast food restaurants have limited their hours, with some eliminating in-person dining due to chronic staff shortages that continue to persist.

"As Stanly County's unemployment rate approaches pre-pandemic lows, employers continue to face challenges meeting their workforce needs in order to maintain and grow their businesses," Stanly County Economic Development Commission Director Candice Lowder said. "In order to compete for workers, many are offering incentives such as signing, performance and longevity bonuses and improving salary and benefits packages. Hopefully, these initiatives will not only keep the unemployment rate low for job seekers already in the workforce, but they may also attract new workers who were not actively seeking employment before or during the pandemic."

The number of workers employed across the state increased by almost 51,000 over the month to roughly 4.9 million, while those unemployed decreased by 31,000 to roughly 190,000.

The federal employment rate in September fell to 4.2 percent from 5.2 percent in August, though the economy added only 194,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Almost 16,000 North Carolinians filed COVID-19 related initial claims in September, a slight decrease from the 11,000 who filed the month before. More than 3.8 million claims have been filed in the state since March 15, 2020.

Stanly County had 71 people file COVID-19 related initial unemployment insurance claims (out of 330 total initial claims) in September, a slight decease from the 80 who filed COVID-19 claims the month before. There are 266 continued COVID-19 related claims for the month.

The industries most impacted by the pandemic in Stanly were unclassified/unknown with 62 claims, educational and health services with 49 claims and trade, transportation and utilities and manufacturing each with 47 claims.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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