Unemployment Falls for Third Straight Month
Moore County's unemployment rate dropped for the third consecutive month in May.
The jobless rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point, to 8.9 percent in May, according to the latest report from the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina (ESC).
Gene Norton, manager of the ESC office in Aberdeen, said that even though a rate below 9 percent looks optimistic, residents should not begin to think that the local economy is seeing drastic improvements.
"Part of the drop is more than likely seasonal fluctuations in the economy," he said. "It's still too early."
Norton said that warmer weather and longer days have generated more economic activity because people have more time for leisure activities, such as going to restaurants, seeing movies and shopping.
"It's good news," Norton said. "It's the first time we've been below 9 percent in quite a while."
Norton said that the hospitality and resort industries saw the most growth in May, thanks to the beginning of the tourism season.
"[The numbers are] not back to what they were two to three years ago, but it's better," he said. "Things are looking much better than they were a quarter ago."
Norton said his office has seen more local manufacturers preparing to hire workers in the future, including the expansion of the Ingersoll Rand plant in Southern Pines later this year.
"It's a sign that things are starting to pick up when manufacturers are ramping up," Norton said. "It's usually a good sign overall. Of course, we still have to wait a few months before we see the effects in the labor force estimates."
Moore County was one of 47 counties that were at or below the state's unemployment rate of 9.9 percent in May.
According to the report, about 3,276 people were unemployed in May out of 36,731 in the work force.
Contact Hannah Sharpe by e-mail at hannah@ thepilot.com.
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