01/06/10 — Jobless rate up a touch for Wayne

View Archive

Jobless rate up a touch for Wayne

By Laura Collins
Published in News on January 6, 2010 1:46 PM

The Wayne County unemployment rate increased to 9 percent in November from 8.7 percent in October.

The rate had been steadily decreasing since July -- dropping from 9.7 to 8.9 percent in August, then again to 8.8 percent in September, and to 8.7 percent in October. The recent increase wasn't entirely unexpected, said Bill Pate of the Unemployment Security Commission.

"I thought it would begin to rise a little," he said. "And I think it will rise more before it falls back."

Pate said seasonal factors come into play during the fall and winter months when outdoor work is limited.

In the county, residential construction and small contractors are taking a hit.

"Houses aren't being built right now. Without the buildings going up, there's not work to do," Pate said. "I've talked to people who have been in business for 30 or 40 years and this is the first time they've ever had no business at all."

Some of the businesses are drastically decreasing hours or are temporarily laying off employees with plans to hire them back when work starts to increase again, Pate said.

"I'm hoping by spring we will see some improvements. I know some manufacturers we're talking to are planning on doing some hiring," he said. "But I think it's going to be a long-term thing before we start to see some real improvement. I hope I'm wrong about that."

Not all the news is bad news, however. Some companies in the county associated with the automotive industry have hired back laid-off employees and even begun to hire new ones.

"I'm not going to say they're doing well, but they are starting to bounce back," Pate said. "We're beginning to see signs of recovery."

Wayne County is also faring well in comparison to surrounding counties.

"If you look around, Wilson was at 12.1 (percent), Greene was 10.1, Lenoir was 11.8," he said. "I think it's the industry in our county that effects it. We have three automotive places in our county that are doing better and I think that has a lot to do with it."

In surrounding counties, only Sampson saw a decrease in the unemployment rate dropping from 8.6 percent to 8.5 percent in November. In Duplin, the rate increased from 9 to 9.1 percent; in Greene the rate increased from 10 to 10.1; in Johnston the rate increased from 9.5 to 9.6; and in Wilson the rate remained the same at 12.1.

Statewide the unemployment rate increased from 10.6 percent to 10.7 percent in November.