10-31-2019 – Local employment surges, report says

Posted on: October 31st, 2019 by admin


October 30, 2019



By Guy Lucas



Oct 30, 2019 11:31 AM

The number of Caldwell County residents without jobs dropped in September to its lowest level of the year while the number of those with jobs jumped by more than 500 to a post-recession high, the state Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.


That helped the county’s unemployment drop nearly a full percentage point, going from 4.6 percent in August to 3.7 percent in September. Only 38 of the state’s 100 counties had larger drops.


The gain in the number of those with jobs, which brings the employment total to an estimated 35,760, was hailed by Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


“The most positive news is that Caldwell showed the largest number employed for a September report than it has since well before the recession – 2006 to be exact,” she said.


Murray noted that the positive news coincides with Caldwell Is Hiring at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center, where about 50 employers from around the region will be looking for workers for a wide range of jobs.


“There remains great capacity for growth in our companies, as evidenced by the more than 3,300 jobs available at Caldwell Is Hiring today (Oct. 31),” she said.


The county’s labor force, the combination of those with jobs and those actively looking for jobs, had dropped below 37,000 in August for the first time since December but climbed back above that number again in September.


The number of county residents without jobs dropped by more than 300 from August to September, to an estimated 1,360.


Local unemployment rates traditionally drop in September because school employees who are not on year-round contracts are back to work, and that was the case across the state. All 100 counties saw a decrease in unemployment rates.


In neighboring Catawba County, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.8 points to 3.3 percent, and Burke matched Caldwell’s 0.9 point drop, hitting 3.4 percent.


The overall Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area had an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in September, tied with Winston-Salem for the sixth lowest among the state’s 15 metro areas.


When speaking about the county’s unemployment rate, Murray often reminds people that the report reflects only the people who live in Caldwell County. Jobs that are created here but filled by people who find housing in neighboring counties aren’t reflected, and many local employers say the area doesn’t have enough housing, particularly apartments, for the workers they are hiring.


“It reinforces the case for much needed multi-family and single-family, market-rate housing. More jobs would be filled if more housing opportunities existed,” she said. “And yes, we are very determined to meet this need. It will have long-lasting and dramatic effects on Caldwell’s tax base and economy.”


But she said Caldwell County is not alone in trying to attract more workers. On Wednesday she attended the fall conference of the North Carolina Economic Development Association, where “Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland said North Carolina has the highest percentage of unfilled positions in the country” but said officials should look at that as a positive.


“He interprets that as enormous capacity for growth,” she said. “So do I.”

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