09/12/13 — County jobless rate falls to 9 percent

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County jobless rate falls to 9 percent

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on September 12, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County's unemployment rate remained below the state average last month -- falling to 9 percent for July, down from 9.2 percent in June.

The state average for July was 9.1 percent.

In July 2012, Wayne County's unemployment rate was 9.3 percent.

All rates are non-seasonally adjusted.

"The monthly rates aren't seasonally adjusted so if you want to compare apples to apples you need to look at both rates non-seasonally adjusted," North Carolina Department of Employment Security Public Information Director Larry Parker said.

Because the annual reports take into account holidays, seasonal employment, vacations and extreme weather situations to "smooth out the numbers" they should not be compared directly to monthly numbers.

When the unemployment rate dips, it is either due to more people finding jobs or more people giving up their job searches and leaving the labor force, Parker said.

Parker said the local numbers show 700 more jobs filled and 600 less people unemployed. And while it's hard to gauge how many of those were people simply leaving the labor pool, the numbers are still good for Wayne County.

Mike Haney, vice president of existing industry for the Wayne County Development Alliance, said that in Wayne County, the manufacturing and distribution sector is hiring.

"There are jobs out there that still aren't filled. In some cases the jobs demand certain skills that people here don't have," Haney said.

Haney said that September's unemployment rate will be more telling than July's because students off in the summer sometimes end up being counted as unemployed.

He also noted that Wayne Community College is working with potential employees, offering certificates of competency and training in the manufacturing industry, which makes those candidates easier to place in jobs than the general public.

"With the technology that's involved with the jobs now, they require higher standards to work with the equipment," Haney said, adding, too, that often salaries for those manufacturing jobs are higher than local averages.

He also noted that the recently announced closings of Cooper Bussmann and Acme United will not take place until next year and so are not impacting local jobless rates yet.

Wayne County comes in at the middle of the pack in relation to its surrounding counties, above Johnston and Sampson counties' rates of 7.7 percent and 8 percent respectively, but lower than Lenoir, 9.9 percent; Greene, 9.5 percent; and Wilson, 13.1 percent.

Ten years ago in July Wayne County's unemployment rate was 6.7 percent.