03/22/12 — Jobless rate up across state

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Jobless rate up across state

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on March 22, 2012 1:46 PM

Unemployment rates shot up across the state in January, according to the most recent data provided by the North Carolina Department of Commerce's Division of Employment Security.

The data, released Tuesday, shows that rates increased in all but five of the state's 100 counties from December to January -- a shift the report states is due to seasonal factors. Rates decreased in three counties and remained the same in two.

Wayne County's rate increased by 0.6 percent from December to January, and January's mark represented a half a percentage point increase from January 2011.

Darlene Williams, director of the area's Division of Workforce Solutions office, said the increase in the area was a combination of a reduction in retail jobs and a decrease in construction jobs.

"The availability of jobs is down in the winter months," she said, as most construction projects are begun in and during the warmer months.

The retail industry's temporary hiring of employees in anticipation of holiday shopping also contributes to the increase, she said, as many of those workers are now seeking jobs again.

There is a bit of hope, however.

"We're seeing a very slight increase in some of our job listings, but it's very slight," she said, adding that the increase, however subtle, could be evidence that the job market's turn for the better at the national level could be trickling down to Wayne County. "We're cautiously optimistic."

Other area counties were among those experiencing upticks in the unemployment rate, as Wilson County's jumped a full percentage point to 12 percent in January while Lenoir County saw almost as much of an increase, 0.9 percent, to balloon its unemployment rate to 11.1 percent.

Johnston County saw a 0.7 percent increase from 8.9 percent to 9.6 percent while Duplin County's rate rose by a full percentage point to 10.4 percent. Greene County had its rate increase by 0.6 percent to 9.5 percent while Sampson County's rate grew to 9.3 percent from 8.6 percent during January.

Graham County had the highest listed unemployment rate in the month of January with a rate of 20.6 percent. Dare County was not far behind, however, as the two counties are both listed as having rates in excess of 20 percent. Dare County's rate in January was 20.2 percent. Orange County's 6.4 percent was the state's lowest.

The report also notes that rates grew over the year in 58 counties, decreased in 35 counties and remained the same in seven counties.