County jobless rate drops

Apr. 10, 2014 @ 04:38 AM

The ratio of unemployed to those in the labor force dropped slightly in Rutherford County during the month of February.

According to a report from the Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division the jobless rate for Rutherford County dropped to 9.4 percent over the month — down from 9.7 percent reported in January.

The county maintained the 12th-highest unemployment rate in the state for the month.

The report indicated the county’s labor force decreased by 158 while the number of unemployed dropped by 104. Department of Commerce spokesman Larry Parker said those decreases were the main reason for the county’s drop in unemployment over the month.

“It seems to be the typical pattern,” Parker said. “Rutherford County is not a large county but this has been a pattern among counties across the state.”

He added the exodus of those in the labor force can be due to a number of factors including retirement, moving from the area or just giving up looking for work.

Sandra Miller-Camp, with the Division of Workforce Solutions’ Forest City office, said her office has seen a slight increase in job orders — or employers seeking employees — over the month.

“Our hiring has been pretty steady over the last few months,” Miller-Camp said.

As of Wednesday, the Forest City office had 77 job orders in Rutherford and Polk counties.

Miller-Camp said the job openings available are scattered throughout different sectors.

“Those openings are kind of all over the board,” Miller-Camp said. “We are seeing some increase in manufacturing and retail.”

She added Chimney Rock and Lake Lure businesses have increased their job orders due to the need for seasonal employees.

Parker said, in Rutherford County, the numbers across the board have decreased over the year. From November to December, the county’s labor force decreased by nearly 500 while the number of unemployed dropped by almost 80.

“Counties have seen an increase in employment but a sharp decrease in the number of unemployed labor force,” Parker said. “You want to see increases in employment and decreases in the number of those unemployed but both categories have been down over the year in Rutherford County.”

In January, the state’s unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent to 6.4 percent — the first time since March 2006 the state’s jobless rate was below the national average. January, however, was the first time in several months the county’s jobless rate increased.

Seven counties reported unemployment rates over 10 percent in February with Graham County having the state’s highest unemployment at 13.8 percent.

Polk County maintained the region’s lowest unemployment rate at 4.6 percent while Buncombe County had a jobless rate of 4.9 percent. Cleveland County reported an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent while McDowell County was at 7.5 percent.

The next unemployment report is due out on April 21 when the state jobless rate for March will be released.


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