Unemployment Rate Falls in December
Employment Security Commission of North Carolina's December Report
For the full report on December's unemployment situation in North Carolina, click here.
The unemployment rate in Moore County dropped to 8.6 percent in December, but it is too early to tell where the local economy is headed this year.
"We'll probably have a good idea by the middle of March, once we've seen the January and February numbers," says Gene Norton, manager of the Aberdeen office of the N.C. Employment Security Commission (ESC).
Norton says the December rate, which was three-tenths of a percentage point lower than the previous month, usually goes down annually due to temporary hiring during the holiday shopping season.
"Even though some of those retail workers are still employed, there have been some layoffs since then," he says. "The new rate is a good sign that the economy is improving slowly. It's just much more slowly than we would like."
Moore was one of 66 counties in North Carolina in which unemployment rates decreased in December. The rate increased in 27 counties and remained the same in seven.
Overall, the state's unemployment rate in December was 9.8 percent, a one-tenth of a percentage point increase over the previous month.
"Over the past year, there was a gain of 10,400 jobs, with many of the job sectors experiencing gains," ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes says. "Consistent job growth through these sectors will be the key to gaining back jobs lost during the recession."
The unemployment rate across the country dropped to 9 percent in January, but Norton says that number and the state number are seasonally adjusted, while the county number is not.
"You really can't compare apples to oranges, so we can't infer anything from the numbers unless all three go down," he says. "If that were to continue for three months, it would be an even better sign."
Norton adds that he expects fluctuation this spring after daylight saving time kicks in.
"That creates more activity, particularly late in the day," he says. "You have more people shopping and dining out on the personal side, and outdoor businesses working longer, particularly construction and landscaping companies."
Moore County had a labor force of 36,041 people in December. Of those, 32,958 were employed and 3,083 were unemployed.
Still, the county fared better than most of its neighbors in December. Harnett, Lee, Montgomery, Richmond and Scotland counties all had double-digit unemployment. Cumberland, Hoke and Randolph counties were 9, 9.3 and 9.6 percent, respectively.
Only Chatham County, at 6.4 percent, had a lower rate than Moore.
"Rates were down," Holmes says. "But continued focus on job growth and finding work for our customers remains our priority."
Contact Ted Natt at email@example.com.
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