Jobless rate remains unchanged


Staff Writer

Friday, September 29, 2017

The local unemployment rate in August remained stagnant, according to figures from the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Edgecombe County was one of 26 counties where the unemployment rate increased slightly from 7.3 percent in July to 7.4 percent in August, which is the second highest joblessness rate in the state. Nash County was one of 49 counties to remain unchanged at 6.2 percent in August and July and has the ninth highest unemployment rate in North Carolina.

Rocky Mount’s 6.6 percent unemployment rate was the same in August as in July. However, the Rocky Mount Metropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of Nash and Edgecombe counties, remained the highest joblessness rate among the 15 metro areas in the state. 

Over the month, net industry employment increased in all of the 15 metro areas — including Rocky Mount, which witnessed a net employment increase of 600 jobs in August. There were 700 jobs gained in government and 100 jobs gained in manufacturing and education and health services. 

Nonetheless, the lack of people working continues to be an issue for the local economy. Rocky Mount’s 6.6 percent unemployment was higher than the state’s average of 4.1 percent in August. While Rocky Mount’s joblessness rate has dropped from 7.6 percent in August 2016 to 6.6 percent this August, over the year net industry employment reportedly shows losses of 1,100 jobs.

Patrick McHugh, economic analyst for the N.C. Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center, said Rocky Mount is one of two metropolitan areas along with Goldsboro that lost jobs over the past year. He added even after years of economic recovery, 48 of the state’s 100 counties had fewer jobs in August than existed before the Great Recession.

Edgecombe and Nash counties have seen joblessness rates decrease over the year. Edgecombe County dropped from 8.7 percent in August 2016 to 7.4 percent this August, and Nash County declined from 7.0 percent in August 2016 to 6.2 percent last month.

But figures show Edgecombe County employed more people in December 2007 at 22,238 compared to 20,209 in August, while Nash County employed more people in December 2007 at 43,540 compared to 39,501 people in August. 

“A few urban areas have done very well in recent years, which often makes North Carolina’s statewide picture look rosier than it actually is,” McHugh said. “Here we are, nearly a full decade out from the start of the Great Reccession, and many communities — both rural and urban — still haven’t recovered.”