4-7-2021 – Local job numbers jump higher

Posted on: April 7th, 2021 by admin

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April 7, 2021

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By Guy Lucas guylucas@newstopicnews.com

 

Caldwell County followed a statewide trend of jumps in employment in February, bringing the county’s employment to its highest point since before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

 

The number of Caldwell residents with jobs jumped by about 300, dropping the local unemployment rate in February to 5.9%, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported. The division also revised the January unemployment rate from the original 6.3% to 6.2%.

 

The county’s number of employed residents rose above 34,200, the first time it has been above 34,000 since before the pandemic began, which shows the local economy is recovering, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.

 

“Caldwell continues a steady return to pre-COVID employment. It is great to see employment, and the workforce as a whole, show good increases,” she said.

 

Caldwell County lost more than 7,500 jobs due to the pandemic, judging by the change in employment from almost 36,000 in February 2020 to a low of just under 28,000 in April 2020. Since then employment in the county has made mostly slow but steady gains.

 

Improvement in February was seen across the board, with employment jumping by a total of about 50,000 statewide and local unemployment rates dropping in 96 of the state’s 100 counties. Most saw their rate drop by at least 0.3 point.

 

Catawba County’s rate declined by 0.4 point to 5.4%, and Burke’s dropped by 0.4 to 5.3%.

 

The overall Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area’s unemployment rate dropped 0.4 point to 5.4%, the third lowest in the state. The Durham-Chapel Hill and Raleigh metro areas were tied with the lowest rate, 4.7%, and the Asheville and Wilmington areas both had a rate of 5.1%.

 

The size of the labor force also grew statewide by more than 30,000, indicating more long-term unemployed people returning to look for jobs. Those who are not looking are not counted as unemployed.

 

Caldwell’s labor force grew by about 200 from January to February.

 

Murray said many local employers are eager to hire.

 

“Employers are anxious for more skilled workers to return to the workplace because companies are adding daily to their workforces. Orders are up in spite of supply chain challenges,” she said. “We have seen an increase in interest from new (industrial recruitment) clients, and we are seeing increases in employers recruiting workers from the region as well as out of state. It is an unusually growing time.”

 

 

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