05/17/10 — Wayne County unemployment down in March

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Wayne County unemployment down in March

By Laura Collins
Published in News on May 17, 2010 1:51 PM

Wayne County's March unemployment rate dropped from February of this year and matches the March 2009 unemployment rate.

The rate, which dropped from 9.9 to 9.2 percent, is a good sign, but only a start, according to Bill Pate, Employment Security Commission Goldsboro branch manager.

"That is a good thing, but you have to take it into perspective that 9.2 is still a pretty high rate," he said. "I really believe it's going to start turning that direction pretty slowly. We're taking less claims and people are returning to work. It's a good thing but I still think it's going to be slow."

He said the time of year plays a part in the unemployment rate also. In April of 2009 the rate dropped from 9.2 in March 2009 to 8.7 percent.

"The seasonal farming will also be able to keep a lot of people busy during the summer," he said. "In the fall is will start rising and in the winter it will get higher. But at least we're beginning to head back in the right direction as opposed to the other."

Pate said the number of first-time unemployment claims have also reduced. Throughout the year the Employment Security Commission was holding two 20-member classes each day for initial claims. Now, they only have enough people for one class that typically has less than 20 people. He added that it's not just one particular industry that's accounting for the decrease in unemployment.

"I think everyone's doing better at this point. The food industry is still doing well and we're doing a lot of recruitment for poultry," he said.

The March labor force in Wayne County is 52,996 people; 48,129 are employed and 4,867 are unemployed.

Surrounding counties also experienced a decrease in unemployment rates. Duplin County's rate dropped from 10 percent in February to 9.2 percent in March; Greene dropped from 11.5 percent to 11.2 percent; Johnston dropped from 11.1 percent to 10.2; Sampson dropped from 9.7 to 9.0 and Wilson dropped from 13 percent to 12.1 percent.

Wayne County is still below the statewide unemployment rate which dropped from 11.8 in February to 10.9 in March. All 100 counties saw a drop in their March unemployment rates.