Archive for April, 2018

4/5/2018 – Caldwell labor force hits multi-year high; unemployment rate falls to 4.4 percent

Posted on: April 5th, 2018 by admin

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April 5, 2018

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By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic

 

Caldwell County’s labor force grew to its highest level in more than five years in February, according to a new state report. In addition, the number of people working reached its highest level since July 2008, with 35,241 Caldwell individuals having jobs.

 

The local unemployment rate inched down by 0.1 percentage point to 4.4 percent, but the labor force was the brightest news in the monthly report from the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division, growing to 36,861.

 

That is the highest since October 2012, when it was 37,045, according to statistics kept by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

 

The labor force is the total of those who have jobs and those who are actively seeking jobs.

 

Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said the increased labor force reflects growing worker confidence in the economy, which has seen consistent year-over-year gains for several years running.

 

“These numbers continue to show the steady and consistent growth of our economy. I am particularly pleased with a workforce of nearly 37,000 – what a strong sign it is of the confidence workers have today in the opportunities here,” Murray said. “We also have secured an equally strong position in the state’s economic ranking, in the top third for some time now as regards to the lowest unemployment.”

 

The labor force has grown sluggishly even as other economic indicators showed strength. Part of the explanation has been older workers retiring and leaving the workforce, but part of it has been long-term unemployed workers feeling discouraged and not seeking jobs.

 

Although the local unemployment rate peaked in February 2010 at 17 percent, Caldwell County’s labor force didn’t hit its all-time low until December 2014, when it was just over 35,000. By that time, the local unemployment rate had dropped to 6.2 percent.

 

From 2000 until the 2008 recession, the local labor force ranged between about 43,000 and 38,000, though it was dropping overall during that time, in part as the furniture industry contracted.

 

Caldwell’s unemployment rate for February was tied for 31st lowest in the state.

 

The larger Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area saw its overall unemployment rate drop to 4.1 percent, giving it the fourth-lowest rate among North Carolina’s 15 metro areas – behind only Asheville’s 3.7 percent, Raleigh’s 3.9 percent, and Durham-Chapel Hill’s 4.0 percent.

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