Ashe County’s jobless rate fell to 10 percent in November, a 1.3 percent decrease from October, but a 0.9 percent decrease since November 2011, according to the latest figures from the N.C. Department of Commerce.
The drop in unemployment follows a pattern in the county of monthly fluctuation, with declining over-the-year (OTY) figures which mirrors a trend across the state.
Statewide, unemployment in November was 9 percent – a 0.2 percent increase over October, but a 1.1 percent OTY decrease. Seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates rose in 81 of the state’s 100 counties in November, but OTY rates fell in 95.
Eleven of the DOC’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) showed increased unemployment for November, but 13 saw an OTY decline, with only Winson-Salem showing an increase.
Alleghany showed a 0.9 percent November increase, but a full 2 percent decrease OTY. Watauga was up 0.6 percent, down 0.4 OTY, and Wilkes dropped 0.1 percent and was down 1.1 percent OTY.
Graham County had the highest unemployment rate in November at 16.3 percent. Orange County had the lowest at 5.7 percent.
Unemployment in Ashe County is still 2.3 percent higher than the national average of 7.7 percent for November 2012, listed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), which was set to expire at the end of 2012, has been extended to week ending Dec.28, 2013, according to Division of Employment Security Acting Public Information Director Larry Parker.
“There were no major changes to the program,” he said.
The 250-260 residents of Ashe County receiving EUC can continue to draw $286 per week. That’s approximately $73,000 of continued weekly cash flow into the county economy or $3.8 million through the year, Parker said.
There were 363 initial claims for regular unemployment insurance in the county in November, a sharp decline from 630 in October, he said.
The General Assembly will be voting this month on recommendations from the House Revenue Laws Committee aimed at paying down the state’s $2.4 billion jobless benefits debt to the federal government. Unemployed North Carolinians could see their maximum weekly benefits permanently reduced by as much as 35 percent, with first tier coverage shortened from six months to 20 weeks.
A temporary increase in state unemployment tax assessments (SUTA) for employers was also proposed by the committee.
If the jobless rate drops below the state’s 9 percent “total unemployment rate threshold”, and remains there for 13 weeks or more, regular unemployment could lose tier four, the final 10 week period of regular coverage, Parker said.
Unemployment figures for December will be released Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, according to the DOC.