The release of January’s unemployment reports provided some sobering numbers for local officials and residents.
The jobless rate for the Rocky Mount Metropolitan Statistical Area – which includes all of Nash and Edgecombe counties – was the highest in the state at 14.1 percent, up 1.1 percent from December and 0.5 percent from January 2012. The unemployment rates in Nash and Edgecombe counties also increased from those of December and January 2012.
Industrial recruitment continues to be a priority for local officials. Incentives to induce new industries to the area or help existing business expand remain sorely needed. Despite some major expansions last year by existing companies, too few jobs are available for too many people in the Twin Counties who are seeking work.
The recent reforms of the state’s employment security system passed by the N.C. General Assembly cut benefit amounts and the time jobless workers can receive assistance. This will only serve to increase the need and urgency for the creation of more good-paying jobs.
Officials of local governments and the Carolinas Gateway Partnership work tirelessly to attract new businesses and industries and help existing companies expand and remain in the area – but they face stiff competition from other regions in that effort.
With the last of the lawsuits against the proposed Sanderson Farms poultry plant finally behind us, the Twin Counties should be more than ready and poised to close the book on that contentious chapter of local economic history and move forward.
We must redouble our efforts to entice new businesses to the area and create an environment where they and existing businesses can thrive.