11-26-2019 – Job numbers approach a benchmark

Posted on: November 26th, 2019 by admin


November 26, 2019



By Guy Lucas



Nov 25, 2019 3:43 PM


The number of Caldwell County residents who have jobs came tantalizing close to breaking a 12-year high in October, according to a state report.


Though the monthly unemployment report officially is an estimate based on surveys and statistical analysis, not a precise count, the report released Monday by the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division placed the number of employed at 35,994.


That’s just six short of a benchmark that Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, has been looking forward to breaking.


“Just as we had anticipated, Caldwell County’s unemployment reached a new year-long low while the labor force and the number employed have continued to grow, surpassing all of this year as well as many years before it,” she said. “We are no longer focused on the unemployment rate but very keenly focused on the number of residents working. The next mile marker to pass on this historic comeback is 36,000 employed — and we were within six people of hitting that mark.”


The county’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, inched up slightly to 3.8 percent in October from 3.7 percent in September as both the labor force – the combined total of those with jobs and those who are actively looking for a job – and the number of those who are unemployed rose slightly.


The labor force, at just over 37,400, was the largest of the year, and it has been over 37,000, an eight-year-high, every month but one since January. A growing labor force is generally seen as a sign of growing confidence by workers.


“The environment is particularly good for those folks looking for improved opportunity — it is there,” Murray said. “We have the most diversified economy we have ever had, and with it comes incredible diversity in employment opportunities. I am reminded constantly by Caldwell employers that they are also willing to train and up-skill existing and potentially new employees.”


Due to seasonal factors, the local unemployment rate rose in 86 of the state’s 100 counties in September. It did not drop in any counties. Burke and Catawba counties saw the same 0.1-point increases that Caldwell did – with the rate in Burke going to 3.8 percent and in Catawba to 3.4 percent.


The overall unemployment rate in the entire Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area was 3.5 percent, tied with Burlington for the seventh lowest rate among the state’s 15 metro areas.

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