Ashe County unemployment rose to 15.2 percent in February, from 14.1 percent in January, a 1.1 percent increase. Year-over-year unemployment numbers also worsened, climbing .7 percent, from 14.5 percent in February 2011.
The slide is the third in as many months, after job growth in late 2011.
Despite Ashe County’s troubles, the unemployment rate fell in 84 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in February, increased in 10, and remained steady in six. Year-over-year, the unemployment rate decline in 81 counties when compared with February 2011.
Statewide, the unemployment rate decreased to 10.1 percent from 10.5 percent in January, a .4 percent decrease. Year-over-year numbers also showed a .8 percent improvement, from 10.9 percent in February 2011.
“A majority of North Carolina’s counties have lower unemployment rates compared to last year,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll. “While over-the-year numbers are positive, we must continue our focus on job growth across the state. We have employment service offices statewide to assist customers with job search opportunities and other workforce related programs.”
Thirty-four counties were at, or below, the state’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 10.1 percent. Unemployment rates decreased in 13 of N.C.’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas with the exception of Jacksonville, which remained steady at 9.1 percent.
The number of workers employed in North Carolina increased in February by 17,939 to 4,184,386. The number of unemployed decreased by 13,965 to 472,573. Year-over-year, the number of unemployed fell by 27,787, while the number of employed increased by 82,956.
Ashe County’s labor force increased in February, potentially indicating more county residents are searching for employment.
The county labor force reached 11,831, higher than both December and January. The number of unemployed in Ashe County reached 1800 in February.
The seven counties with the lowest unemployment rate are Orange, at 6.3 percent, Gates, at 7.7 percent, Henderson, at 7.7 percent, Durham, at 7.9 percent, Wake, at 7.9 percent, Buncombe, at 8.2 percent, and Polk, at 8.4 percent.
The seven counties with the highest unemployment rate are Graham, 20.7 percent, Dare, 19.1 percent, Swain, 18.7 percent, Scotland, 17.5 percent, Hyde, 16.3 percent, Ashe, 15.2 percent, and Rutherford, 15 percent.
Of Ashe County’s neighbors, Watauga County’s unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent in February, from 9.2 percent the prior month. Wilkes County’s unemployment rate remained steady at 11.9 percent, Avery County fell to 13 percent from 13.4 percent in January, and Alleghany County’s unemployment rate fell to 10.1 percent from 10.5 percent in January.
In Ashe County, the unemployment benefits paid to residents over the past 12 months (February 2011-February 2012) were $10,440,773. Alleghany County received $3,881,775, Avery County received $5,824,539, Watauga County received $10,322,164, while Wilkes County received $24,582,283.
The N.C. DES’s own Job Connector website lists 187 jobs available in Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga, and Wilkes Counties. 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.