County's Jobless Rate Rises Slightly
Moore County's unemployment rate rose a mere one-tenth of a percent in February.
According to the latest statistics from the Employment Security Commission (ESC) of North Carolina, the county's latest unemployment rate is at 5.4 percent.
Moore was among 72 other counties across the state that experienced an increase in the unemployment rate. But the rate is still lower than usual, according to John Wittenstrom, manager of the ESC office in Aberdeen.
"Normally, right now, Moore County's rate is around 6.2 percent," he said. "We are pretty well below that, so things are still looking good for us."
Moore County is among the 81 counties with jobless rates between 5 percent and 10 percent. The statewide unemployment rate is also 5.4 percent.
"We are at the same rate as the state, which is not good, but expected," Wittenstrom said.
According to Wittenstrom, the unemployment rate in Moore County and the state normally go up this time of year, because there are fewer jobs.
"Due to seasonal factors, we tend to experience rate increases this time of year," said ESC Chairman Harry E. Payne. "In February, 58 of the 72 counties that experienced an increase was by three-tenths of a percentage point or less. These increases are likely due in part to seasonal fluctuations and the current economic situation."
Like Payne, Wittenstrom also feels that the local unemployment rate is a result of a possible recession.
"I honestly think we are just about in a recession," Wittenstrom said. "Of course, by the time it has been declared that we are in a recession, we [the country] are usually on our way out."
He went on to say that the slump in the housing market and the declining number of housing permits are signs that the country is in a recession.
"The way the numbers are looking," Wittenstrom said, "I think the [employment] numbers will stay low for a while. But perhaps by the end of the summer, we may begin to see the economy doing a turnaround."
Wittenstrom said the county's unemployment rate could reach as high as 6.2 percent before it begins to decline. Among the nearly 37,000 people in the labor market, about 35,000 have jobs, leaving about 2,000 unemployed.
"That doesn't mean that jobs aren't out there," he said.
At the county's last job fair, more than 40 employers were looking for workers. Wittenstrom said more than 500 local residents are looking for jobs.
"People need work, and we were able to help some of them out," he said.
All nine surrounding counties experienced an increase in unemployment. Chatham had the lowest rate at 4.4 percent. Scotland, again, had the highest rate in unemployment, at 9.9 percent.
Like Moore, Harnett and Hoke counties were at 5.4 percent, Cumberland was at 5.7 percent, and Lee and Montgomery counties increased three-tenths of a point, at 6.1 and 7 percent, respectively.
"For the time of year, Moore County is still not in bad shape," Wittenstrom said. "Along with Harnett and Hoke, we had the lowest numbers in the area, which is still pretty positive."
The state's monthly report and information about the labor market can be found online at www.ncesc.com.
Jenny Fitter can be contacted at 693-2480 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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