05/02/12 — County jobless rate falls in March

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County jobless rate falls in March

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 2, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County's unemployment rate tumbled from February to March, along with 97 other counties in the state, although two nearby counties bucked the statewide trend.

The slight increases in Greene and Wilson counties -- both counties saw a 0.1 percentage point climb from February -- were the state's only increases as 98 of N.C. counties saw decreases in month-to-month unemployment rates, according to the latest statistics released by the state's Division of Employment Security Friday morning.

Wayne County's unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percentage points from February to a total of 8.7 percent in March -- a mark that's also down 0.4 percent from March 2011.

Rates are also down from their March 2011 rates in 85 other counties this year. Rates increased in 14 counties from last March and remained the same in one.

Darlene Williams, director of the area's Division of Workforce Solutions office, said March's results came as her office has seen an increase of applicants entering employment as well as a decrease in jobless benefits paid out.

As far as Greene and Wilson counties were concerned, however, she said it was likely due to seasonal hiring, especially in Wilson County where much of the workforce is driven by tobacco processing plants.

Wilson County's rate of 12.7 percent did represent a 0.3 percentage point decrease from last year's February total, while Greene County's 10.1 percent mark represented more than a percentage point reduction from 11.4 percent -- the county's reported unemployment rate in March 2011.

Sampson County's mark of 8.4 percent rate was down 0.5 percentage points from the county's February total and also down from last year's March rate of 8.6 percent. Johnston County's rate saw a half a percentage point decrease to 8.4 percent from February to March while the county has shaved 1.1 percentage points from its March 2011 rate.

Lenoir County's rate of 10.5 percent was down from its February rate of 10.9 and a decrease from last March's 11 percent rate. Duplin County's March rate was down .4 percentage points from February's 9.9, but the 9.4 percentage rate represented an increase from last March when the rate was 9.2 percent.

Mrs. Williams h is statistically referred to as full employment.

"That's the rate that we will rejoice over," she said. "Every percentage point is what we're striving for, but point by point we'll continue to serve those clients."

The next step she said, will be to reduce the statewide unemployment rate, 9.6 percent in March, to the national rate, which was reported as 8.2 percent in March.