Jobless rate decreases in county

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 08:57 AM

For the first time since November, the number of unemployed in Rutherford County decreased.

According to a report released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce Wednesday, the county's jobless rate decreased 0.9 percent over the month to 13.9 percent in February.

The decrease brought the county out of the list of the five counties with the highest unemployment rate. Rutherford County ranked seventh out of 100 North Carolina counties.

Over the month, the county's labor force decreased by 300 while the number of those employed increased by six.

"I would say most of this is seasonal fluctuation," said Larry Parker, spokesman for the Department of Commerce. "We've seen it across the state the last few months. Since the data is not seasonally adjusted - you will see that, especially following the holidays.

Parker said that the seasonal fluctuations are more typical in leisure and hospitality in the county.

"Especially in the northwest part of the county where Lake Lure and the Chimney Rock area always experience seasonal layoffs during the winter," Parker said. "And over the past couple of months there has been a slight uptick in hiring in a couple of sectors."

The latest jobless rate for the county was still 0.1 percent higher than February 2012.

In all, 99 counties in the state saw decreases in unemployment rates for the month.

Neighboring Polk County decreased 0.6 percent to 7.8 percent while Cleveland County decreased 0.7 percent to 10.6 percent.

Over the year, Cleveland held to the same jobless rate as February 2012 and Polk saw a 0.7 percent decrease over the year.

Graham County held the highest jobless rate — as it has for the last two months. In February 2013, the rate was 20.2 percent — down from 20.4 percent in January 2013.

Dare (18.6 percent), Swain (17.9 percent), Scotland (16.6 percent) and Hyde (15.7 percent) rounded out the five counties with the highest unemployment rate for the month.

Orange County remained the county with the lowest jobless rate at 5.9 percent. Chatham (6.8 percent), Durham (7.1 percent), Wake (7.2 percent) and Henderson (7.4 percent) were the five counties with the lowest rate for the month.

Buncombe County held with the sixth-lowest rate at 7.5 percent.

The March 2013 statewide unemployment report is scheduled to be released on April 19.