The unemployment rate for the Twin Counties is inching lower, but that bright spot might be putting a glare on the overall economic picture: Fewer people are working or looking for work.
That’s the cold conclusion of Michael Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University who spoke with Telegram business reporter John Henderson.
The overall unemployment rate for Nash County fell from 11 percent in November 2012 to 8.9 percent in November 2013. Edgecombe County’s unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in November 2012 to 12 percent in November 2013.
Those are the kinds of numbers community leaders like to see, provided they correllate with an increase in the number of working people. But that hasn’t been the case. The available labor force in Nash County – including those who have jobs and those who are unemployed but who are actively looking for work – decreased by 2,199 people from November a year ago.
Edgecombe County measured a similar decrease – 1,366 fewer people in the available labor force than there were a year ago.
As some political leaders use the unemployment rates to say the state and national economies are improving, it’s important to keep those labor pool numbers in mind. Until we see more people actually going back to work, the percentage of unemployment is a secondary factor.
The trend isn’t confined to the Twin Counties, but that’s the area most important to us, for obvious reasons. The cure for this anemia? The creation of more jobs in Eastern North Carolina.