09/04/07 — Wayne County unemployment rate rises a bit

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Wayne County unemployment rate rises a bit

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on September 4, 2007 1:46 PM

As more people enter the labor market, North Carolina's unemployment rate has slowly inched up, hitting 5 percent in July -- its highest point since September 2006. Last year at this time, the state's unemployment rate was 4.8 percent. Since then, though, there has been an increase of more than 56,000 workers in the labor market.

Those same results also are being born out locally, as Wayne County's unemployment rate rose four-tenths of a percentage point to 5.5 percent from June to July.

"I was a little bit surprised that it went up. It's not extraordinarily high, but I am a little bit surprised," said Bill Pate, manager of the Goldsboro branch of the N.C. Employment Security Commission.

He noted that while it's typical for the rate to climb in June, it usually starts falling back in July as students and recent graduates find work. It's possible, he said, that there are just that many more people in Wayne's labor market this year.

In 2006, Wayne saw only a slight increase in unemployment from 4.8 percent in June to 4.9 percent in July.

But right now, he's not too concerned.

"I really can't pinpoint a reason," Pate said. "It's a little higher than it's been in quite a while, but we haven't had any large scale layoffs by anybody.

"One month doesn't make a trend. If it continues then maybe we can start looking at it a little closer -- look for a trend."

Of North Carolina's 100 counties, 48 had rates lower than Wayne -- with Currituck at the bottom with 2.7 percent -- while 48 were above it. Scotland was at the top with 11 percent. Three counties also had unemployment rates of 5.5 percent.

Of those counties immediately bordering Wayne, Duplin's rate for June was up 0.2 percent to 5.2 percent, Greene was up 0.1 percent to 6.1 percent, Johnston was up 0.1 percent to 4.4 percent, Lenoir stayed even at 6 percent, Sampson stayed even at 4.6 percent and Wilson came down 0.1 percent to 7.5 percent.

Overall, Pate continued, Wayne County's economy is still in good shape.

"There's still a lot of hiring going on by different companies," he said. "Unemployment may just come on back down in August with schools starting."

Not-seasonally adjusted rates show unemployment conditions at the time the data was collected, and seasonal fluctuations have not been removed. They are not generally used in determining the significance of economic trends.

According to the United State Labor Department, the number of unemployed persons -- 7.1 million -- was basically unchanged last month, as the unemployment rate increased only slightly, rising from 4.5 percent in June to 4.6 percent in July. The jobless rate has ranged from 4.4 to 4.6 percent since September 2006.

Both total employment (146.1 million) and the civilian labor force (153.1 million) were little changed in July.