11/02/08 — Wayne unemployment drops a bit

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Wayne unemployment drops a bit

By Staff Reports
Published in News on November 2, 2008 2:00 AM

Wayne County's unemployment rate fell again in September, this time to 6.3 percent.

It was the county's second consecutive drop since the rate reached a 17-year high of 6.9 percent in July. It was 6.7 percent in August.

However, Bill Pate, manager of the Goldsboro branch of the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, warned against thinking the drop was particularly good news.

"I was surprised it dropped at all, but it really didn't drop a lot. We're not turning a corner," he said Friday. "We're actually booked here in the office with unemployment cases until next Friday, which gives you an idea of what's going on."

In just the last month, he said, about $955,950 in unemployment claims have been paid in Wayne County -- $7.65 million, year-to-date.

And, he continued, he is worried it might get worse, especially with layoffs like those from Hilex Poly in Mount Olive not even hitting the books until after the employees' severance pay ends, likely in November.

"The economy hasn't turned around yet. We're not there yet," he said.

After all, unemployment is still nearly two points higher than in September 2007 when it sat at 4.6 percent.

But despite a mild improvement across the state, which saw its rate decrease from 6.8 percent in August to 6.6 percent in September, Wayne County isn't alone in its suffering. Other counties' unemployment rates also are high.

Scotland County clocked in with the highest mark at 11.7 percent and Currituck the lowest at 3.6 percent.

Of the counties immediately surrounding Wayne, Duplin ticked upward from 5.8 percent in August to 5.9 percent in September, Greene fell from 7.4 percent to 7 percent, Johnston dropped from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent, Lenoir fell from 7.9 percent to 7.8 percent, Sampson fell from 5.5 percent to 5.4 percent, and Wilson dropped from 8.8 percent to 7.9 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained steady from August at 6.1 percent.