2-4-2021 – Little movement in job reports

Posted on: February 4th, 2021 by admin

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February 4, 2021

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By Guy Lucas guylucas@newstopicnews.com

Feb 3, 2021 Updated 12 hrs ago

 

Job growth statewide took baby steps in December, and conditions in Caldwell County and the larger Hickory region barely budged from where they were in November, according to a new state report.

 

Caldwell County’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.6% in December, the third consecutive month at that rate, with both the number of people unemployed and the size of the overall labor force showing slight improvements, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.

 

Caldwell was in good company. Statewide the total number of jobs grew by fewer than 34,000, barely any change at all in an economy of more than 4.9 million jobs, and 57 of the state’s 100 counties saw changes of 0.1 percentage point or less in their unemployment rate.

 

Burke County’s rate went up by 0.1 point to 5.8%, while Catawba County’s went down by 0.1 point to 6%. The number of Catawba residents without jobs dropped by about 150, but otherwise, like Caldwell, neither county saw much change in overall numbers.

 

Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said the silver lining is Caldwell’s unemployment rate is holding steady.

 

“I am very pleased to see increases in both the labor force and the number employed, but this remains a very challenging time,” she said. “We are very fortunate that many of our industries have benefitted from internet sales and fulfillment during the COVID economy.”

 

Plastics and packaging companies, which have a significant presence in Caldwell County, have been among those seeing increased demand during the pandemic, but they have been challenged to meet that demand, she said.

 

Other reports have shown that furniture companies also have seen increased demand but also growing backlogs in shipping.

 

Although North Carolina’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns in the spring has been slower recently than during the fall, when a surge of hiring in October cut Caldwell’s unemployment rate from 7.5% to the current 6.6%, the Labor and Economic Analysis Division’s report projects statewide growth will continue rather than stall.

 

“Retail sales and residential building activity declined over the month but remained higher than pre-pandemic levels,” the report said. “Despite a recent slowdown in the national economy, business contacts surveyed by the Richmond Fed expect conditions in the Carolinas to continue improving over the next six months.”

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