04/30/08 — Jobless rate up and down in Wayne

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Jobless rate up and down in Wayne

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 30, 2008 2:09 PM

Wayne County's unemployment rate bumped up .2 percent to 5.1 percent in February and back down .2 percent in March, returning to 4.9 percent.

The rate for March 2007 was 4.3 percent.

And although the rate has gone up some from last year, the dip is not unexpected, said Bill Pate, manager of the Goldsboro branch of the N.C. Employment Security Commission.

"That's normal for the early part of a year," he said. "That happens every year, especially in retail. Some people who work through the Christmas season stay on in January and leave in February. Employment always picks back up in the spring."

He said Wayne County has had a few layoffs in the housing industry in jobs like cabinet-making, roofing and carpentry. He said the county also has lost some jobs in the housing market, but not many.

The county jobless count is below both the state's rate of 5.2 percent and the national rate of 5.1 percent, he said.

"4.9 is really a pretty strong economy," he said. "Most economists say if it's at 5 percent, that is considered full employment. But if it's you that is unemployed, it's 100 percent."

Wayne, Lenoir and Duplin were among 86 counties that saw a drop in unemployment claims in March. Seven counties stayed the same, and seven, including Greene, saw unemployment rates increase.

Lenoir County went from 5.7 percent in February down to 5.6 percent in March, and Duplin went from 5.2 percent in February down to 4.9 percent in March. But Greene County went up from 5.3 percent in February to 5.7 percent in March.

Scotland County remained the county with the highest unemployment rate in March at 9.6 percent, while Orange County had the lowest at 3.4 percent.

Overall, there were 33 counties in March that had rates at 5 percent or below, while there were only 18 counties in February that had rates at or below 5 percent.