06/01/08 — Unemployment rate holds steady in county, despite economy

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Unemployment rate holds steady in county, despite economy

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 1, 2008 3:10 AM

The unemployment rate in Wayne County has held steady for two months, coming in at 5 percent in March and April, county officials say.

Goldsboro Employment Security Commission Manager Bill Pate said Wayne County is in a strong position -- just below the statewide rate of 5.1 percent -- even though the economy is keeping local employers on edge.

The state ESC's statistics showed the entire state doing better than last month when the unemployment rate reached 5.3 percent.

Wayne and Johnston were are among nine counties in the state where the unemployment rates remained unchanged from March through April.

Johnston and Duplin did better than Wayne in March, with Johnston staying at 4.7 percent and Duplin dropping a tenth of a point from 5.0 to 4.9 percent.

Greene and Lenoir counties didn't fair as well as their neighbors. Greene's unemployment rate rose four-tenths of a point to 6.2 percent, and Lenoir County's rate rose a tenth of a point to 5.7 percent.

The ESC reported that 59 of the 100 counties in the state had unemployment rates in April that held between 5 and 10 percent.

"Five percent is a good place to be, unless you're unemployed," Pate said.

It's rough on businesses, too, because there is not a surplus of potential employees for employers to choose from when the unemployment rate dips too far, he said.

Gas prices and the housing slump continued to squeeze Wayne County, he said.

It's not on a large scale, Pate said, but some employers are having to lay off employees because of the economy and the impact of gas prices and the housing slump on their revenue.

And as far as gas prices, Pate said, he has had people tell him they're commuting to manufacturing jobs in Clayton and haven't quit yet, but say they are going to have to find something closer to home.

"We had a managers' meeting today, and we're trying to find better ways than having them come in all the time," he said, adding that the more the job seekers can do by Internet and phone calls the better, and that way, the ESC can save people money. About 30 percent of job seekers use the ESCWeb site, he said.