County Sees Slight Drop in Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate in Moore County mirrored that of the United States in November — 8.6 percent.
“A drop of two-tenths of a percentage point from the October rate is a step in the right direction, but it’s not anything to show cause that the economy is significantly better,” said Gene Norton, manager of the Aberdeen office of the N.C. Division of Employment Security. “The improvement is probably due to the seasonal hiring by retailers to prepare for the holiday shopping season.”
Norton expects slight improvement in December for the same reason, while the January rate will likely be higher because retailers will have laid off most of their temporary seasonal employees.
“It happens every year this time of year,” he said. “Hopefully, the number of people losing their jobs in January may not be as much as it has been the past three or four years.”
Moore County had a labor force of 37,392 people in November, of which 34,180 had jobs, leaving 3,212 people unemployed.
Unemployment rates decreased in Moore and 73 other North Carolina counties in November, increased in 20 counties and remained the same in six.
Overall, the state rate was 10 percent. Only California, Mississippi, Nevada and Rhode Island had higher unemployment rates in November.
Dale Carroll, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce, would rather focus on the four-tenths of a percentage point drop from the October rate of 10.4 percent.
“The drop was significant,” Carroll said. “However, the focus must remain on growing jobs in our state.”
Since November 2010, private sector jobs have increased by 30,800, while the government sector has lost 11,200 jobs.
Harry Davis, a professor of finance at Appalachian State University and chief economist for the N.C. Bankers Association, said the U.S. unemployment rate has looked “European” for the past year.
“Europe lives with 7 percent to 9 percent unemployment all the time,” he said last week during a speaking engagement in Pinehurst. “We are beginning to look more like Europe. We’re in the range now.”
Davis adds that fewer Americans are working as the baby-boom generation retires.
“The percentage of the adult population with jobs has fallen from 67 percent in 2000 to 64.2 percent today,” he says. “Ten thousand people hit retirement age each day. When they stop working, they stop creating wealth and start using wealth.”
Moore County again fared better than all of its neighbors except Chatham County, which had an unemployment rate in November of 8.4 percent.
Cumberland, Hoke and Randolph counties had unemployment rates of 9.5 percent, 9.3 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively. Harnett, Lee, Montgomery, Richmond and Scotland counties all had double-digit rates.
Scotland had the state’s highest rate at 16.6 percent.
“Economists are saying that 2012 will be a year of transition and the economy will improve,” Norton said. “More of the economic indicators are supporting that view, but only time will tell.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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