Across the rest of the state, unemployment data released by the N.C. Division of Employment Security showed unemployment rates decreased 83 counties, increased in 12, and remained the same in five.
“October data showed a decrease in all of the state’s metropolitan areas,” said DES Assistant Secretary Lynn R. Holmes. “While unemployment rates dropped in most of the counties, there are counties with rates that are higher than 10 percent. We continue to work with our workforce partners in assisting our customers in job search assistance in our DES offices and JobLink Career Centers across the state.”
Ashe County unemployment fell to 10.2 percent in October, from 10.5 percent in September.
Year over year, the Ashe County unemployment picture remained neutral; in October, 2010, county unemployment was also 10.2 percent. Statewide, the unemployment rate decreased to 9.7 percent in October, versus 10 percent in September. Year over year, NC unemployment was higher by .3 percent.
For the second consecutive month, the labor force in Ashe County contracted from 12,079 in September to 11,936 in October indicating the improved unemployment rate may not necessarily be due to increased hiring. The county labor force decreased between August and September, sliding from 12,185 to 12,079 in September. Long term unemployed, those who fail to find work after 99 weeks and give up looking are no longer counted by the DES. Consequently, the unemployment figures may appear better than they actually are.
North Carolina had 42 counties that were at or below the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate of 9.7 percent. Rates decreased in all 14 of the state’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
The number of persons employed (not-seasonally adjusted) increased slightly in October to 4,070,801. The number of people unemployed decreased by 17,212. The number of people unemployed in October was 436,615 compared to 453,827 in September.
The seven counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Currituck County at 5.4 percent, Orange at 6.2 percent, Gates at 7.3 percent, Watauga at 7.3 percent, Buncombe at 7.5 percent, Camden at 7.5 percent, Henderson at 7.6 percent, and Polk at 7.6 percent.
The seven counties with the highest unemployment rate are Scotland at 16.6 percent, Edgecombe at 15.7 percent, Graham at 14.1 percent, Rutherford at 13.4 percent, Vance at 13.4 percent, Halifax at 13.2 percent, Warren at 13.2 percent, and Caldwell at 13 percent.
Of Ashe County’s neighbors, Watauga County’s unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent in October from 7.5 percent in September. Wilkes County’s rate fell to 10.8 percent from 11.6 percent in September. Alleghany County fell to 10.3 percent from 11 percent in September, and Avery County’s unemployment picture remained neutral at 9.8 percent.
In Ashe County, the unemployment benefits paid over the past 12 months (October 2010-October 2011) were $11,719,479. Watauga County residents received $11,851,142, Avery’s received $6,250,199, Alleghany $4,461,955, and Wilkes $28,761,879.
On the job front, the N.C. DES’s own Job Connector website lists 177 jobs available in the Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga, and Wilkes area. The Job Connector website can be accessed by going to ncesc.com, click on individual services in the menu at left, then select “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.