While the unemployment rate across the state decreased by .1 percent, falling to 10.3 percent in July versus 10.4 percent in June, Ashe County’s unemployment rate increased by .5 percent to 11.4 percent in July versus 10.9 percent in June.
The year to year numbers in Ashe County are slightly off the state’s pace; unemployment in Ashe County decreased to 11.4 percent in July 2011 versus 11.5 percent in July 2010, a decrease of .1 percent. Over the same time period, N.C. unemployment dropped to 10.3 percent in July 2011 versus 10.5 percent in July 2010, a decrease of .2 percent year to year.
This means that Ashe County lost roughly 60 jobs between the months of June and July; the county lost 48 jobs between May and June, bringing the two month total to 108 jobs lost since the start of May. On the upside, the county does employ approximately 12 more people this year than last.
Across the state, unemployment rates decreased in 48 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in July. Rates increased in 39 counties and remained the same in 13.
The seven counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Currituck at 5.2 percent, Hyde at 6.6 percent, Chatham at 7.2 percent, Orange at 7.2 percent, Dare at 7.5 percent, Henderson at 7.6 percent, and Polk at 7.7 percent. Currituck and Hyde counties saw their unemployment rate drop from the previous month. Dare County joined the list of counties with the lowest unemployment rates, bumping Gates County off the list.
The seven counties with the highest unemployment rates are Scotland at 17.7 percent, Edgecombe at 16.2 percent, Rutherford at 14.8 percent, Vance at 14.7 percent, Graham at 14.7 percent, Warren at 14.2 percent, and Halifax at 13.7 percent; each county saw their unemployment rate increase between the months of June and July.
N.C. ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes blames the goverment sector job losses for the increase in unemployment.
“All metropolitan areas across North Carolina experienced a loss in government employment, mainly in educational services,” said Holmes. “The goal of Gov. Perdue, and the ESC and our workforce development partners, is to grow jobs and put people back to work.”
According to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission’s July press release, “The number of workers employed (not-seasonally adjusted) increased in July by 26,393 to 4,085,344. The number of people unemployed decreased by 743. The number of unemployed people in July was 471,032 workers, compared with 471,775 in June.”
Of Ashe County’s neighbors, Watauga County’s July unemployment rate fell to 8 percent from 8.2 percent in June, Wilkes County’s rate fell to 12.2 percent from 12.5 percent, Avery fell to 10.1 percent from 10.4 percent in June, and Alleghany County fell to 11.2 percent from 11.6 percent in June.
In Ashe County, the unemployment benefits paid over the last 12 months comes to $13,319,457. Watauga County residents received $13,425,749 over the same period, marking the second time in as many months that unemployment benefits paid out in Ashe have been less than those received in Watauga. Avery’s benefit payout comes to $6,977,801, Alleghany at $5,038,456, and Wilkes at $33,424,397. Each of the five counties in the region received lower benefits over the preceding 12 month period, than the 12 month period spanning June 2010-June 2011.
On the job front, the N.C. ESC’s own Job Connector website lists 218 jobs available in the Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga, and Wilkes area, an increase of 41 available positions over the last month. The Job Connector website can be accessed by going to ncesc.com, clicking on individual services in the menu at left, then selecting “Find jobs with NC Job Connector.” From there, applicants can choose “Preview job listings” where up to two counties at a time can be selected to search for available positions. Job seekers can also call their local ESC office where counselors can help in finding available positions.
Though national figures are not officially available until Sept. 2, a nationwide survey of 65 economists predict a further weakening of the U.S. economy. The first credit downgrade in the nation’s history, 45,000 striking Verizon wireless workers, and the first pullback in manufacturing activity since 2009 will likely see hiring slow between the months of July and August, according to Bloomberg.