County's Unemployment Rate Increases to 6 Percent in June
Moore County's unemployment rate rose significantly last month.
The jobless rate jumped from 5.6 percent in May to 6 percent in June, according to the Employ-ment Security Commission of North Carolina (ESC). About 2,363 residents now find themselves out of work in Moore County.
"Four-tenths (of a percent) is very significant for a one-month period," said John Wittenstrom, manager of the Aberdeen office of the ESC.
While he could not pinpoint the cause, Wittenstrom had a few theories about the increase.
For one, Wittenstrom said, the unemployment statistics account only for residents actively seeking a job or those receiving unemployment benefits. People who abandon their job searches are no longer factored in.
Wittenstrom said legislation passed by Congress that allows for extended unemployment benefits may have attracted more people to apply.
"A lot of people are noticing that they can get additional unemployment benefits," Wittenstrom said. "It is good for those drawing unemployment. It puts them back in the loop."
Additionally, growth of Fort Bragg and the surrounding area means more people are looking for jobs, creating a larger work force. Wittenstrom said that while one spouse may have work, the other may not.
Unemployment numbers are also typically higher in spring and summer than the rest of the year, according to Wittenstrom. He said that while statistics may rise during the summer months, they usually begin to decline in the fall once school resumes.
It seems that the most likely factor is the volatile state of the national economy, Wittenstrom said. The decline in the housing market, for example, has limited the number of construction jobs everywhere, he said.
Wittenstrom predicted that employment will continue to be problematic for the remainder of 2008.
"I expect the economy to stay rough for the rest of the year," he said.
Wittenstrom added that he hopes things will begin to rebound in the spring.
Despite the jump, Moore County is still below the statewide unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. The ESC reported that out of the 100 counties in North Carolina, 82 -- including all 14 of the state's metropolitan statistical areas -- experienced increased rates during the same period.
Like Wittenstrom, ESC Chairman Harry E. Payne Jr. attributes the rise to the weak U.S. economy.
"The effect of the national economy is being felt in all of North Carolina's 100 counties," Payne said. "While the number of counties that had increasing rates is fewer than the previous month, we see that the rising price of gasoline is having an impact on the labor force. While our commission offices still receive job orders from employers, the pace has dropped. Even during the busy summer months, it appears employers have reduced hiring, making it a much tighter job market."
Nine counties experienced no change.
Nearby Scotland County had the state's highest employment rate at 10.7 percent. Currituck County, on the Outer Banks, had the lowest rate at 3.4 percent.
Among Moore County's neighbors, only Chatham and Hoke Counties posted lower unemployment numbers. They had rates of 5.4 and 5.7 percent, respectively.
Richmond County's rate was 8.8 percent. Montgomery County was next at 8 percent, followed by Lee County at 7 percent, Cumberland and Harnett Counties at 6.6 percent, and Randolph County at 6.4 percent.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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