7-2-2020 – Region sees jobs start to rebound

Posted on: July 6th, 2020 by admin


July 2, 2020



By Guy Lucas

Jul 01, 2020 5:46 PM


The good news about Caldwell County’s unemployment rate in May is that it didn’t get more terrible.


Caldwell and neighboring Catawba, Burke and Alexander counties all were among the two-thirds of North Carolina counties that saw their local unemployment rates decrease in May.


Caldwell’s dropped by 1.4 points to 14.6%, but no one’s dropped by as much as Alexander’s: 6.1 points, improving from the worst unemployment rate in the state to merely the 24th worst.


The size of the job losses from the coronavirus-related business shutdowns in March and April caught many officials by surprise, and many weren’t sure things wouldn’t get worse in May.


But while a number of business restrictions remain in place, the early pace of recovery is encouraging, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Commission. That’s because employment report data is taken from the 10th to 12th day of each month, and North Carolina’s shutdown was in full effect at the time the May numbers were taken, but improvement in employment had already begun.


Caldwell lost 6,555 jobs from March to April but had regained 1,064 by mid-May.


“The June report should show further signs or rebounding across Caldwell’s economy and the … (Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area,” she said.


The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area had been hard hit because of its concentration of manufacturing jobs involving durable goods, such as furniture, textiles and motor vehicle-related products. And according to the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, the heftiest job growth for May was in durable goods production, Murray said.


The improvements in the Hickory region’s counties dropped the region’s overall unemployment rate to 15.0%, leaving the Asheville metro area with the state’s worst unemployment rate at 16.1%. Fayetteville was just behind with 15.4%.


Murray said she hopes the state avoids any further shutdown due to COVID-19 measures so the retail and hospitality sectors — which are the hardest hit statewide — begin to recover as well.


She said the EDC’s “Caldwell Is Hiring” page on Facebook, where the EDC has been posting job openings from around the region, has become more active. In May, 67 companies posted more than 110 positions.


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