Jobless Rate Falls Slightly
Moore County is heading into the holiday shopping season with a little economic momentum as the county’s unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percent in September to 9.2 percent.
“I think there has been a combination of factors that have shown, at least from a seasonal perspective, there has been some turnaround,” said Gene Norton, manager of the N.C. Employment Security Commis-sion (ESC) office in Aberdeen. “Obviously, one month does not make a trend, but it’s always good news when the rate drops.”
Norton said those factors included students and teachers going back to school, some hiring by local companies and good weather in September.
“There hasn’t been a lot of change overall, but there have been some minor tweaks here and there,” he said. “It will be interesting to see if this is an active holiday season given that the economy is not growing at a very fast rate. But we won’t know until after the New Year, when all the numbers have come in.”
The September numbers show that North Carolina’s unemployment rate had a one-tenth of a percent uptick to 10.5 percent, despite the fact that unemployment rates decreased in 92 of the state’s 100 counties. The rates increased in four counties and remained the same in four.
“Many counties still face high unemployment rates,” ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes said. “This agency continues to focus on helping our customers find work and get the assistance they need.”
State Rep. Joe Hackney, House minority leader, blamed the Republicans, saying the increase was largely the result of layoffs in state and local governments.
“Republican policies and the resulting loss of jobs ... are dragging down employment numbers in North Carolina,” Hackney said last week.
Hackney, a former speaker of the House, represents a district that includes one-and-a-half precincts in Moore County. However, if redistricting maps adopted by the legislature are approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, Moore County will no longer be part of his district effective in 2013.
Moore County again fared better than all of its neighbors except Chatham County, which had an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent in September.
The rate in Hoke and Randolph counties was 9.6 percent, while Cumberland, Harnett, Lee, Montgomery, Richmond and Scotland counties each had double-digit rates.
Scotland had the state’s highest rate at 17.3 percent.
Norton notes that larger retailers such as Walmart and Belk are already hiring temporary holiday employees, and others will likely follow suit early this month.
“It will be interesting to see how much hiring is done and how much money is spent by shoppers,” he said.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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