11/30/18 – Employment hits post-recession high

Posted on: November 30th, 2018 by admin


November 30, 2018


By Guy Lucas



Caldwell County hit post-recession highs again in October for the number of county residents who had jobs and the number of people in the labor force, according to a new state report.


Seasonal factors caused local unemployment rates to rise in every county in the state, including in Caldwell an increase of 0.4 percentage points to 3.3 percent, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.


But the number of county residents with jobs rose to nearly 35,800, the highest since April 2008. The previous post-recession high was this past May. The October number is about 150 higher and brings Caldwell closer to an elusive mark: The number of residents with jobs has not topped 36,000 since 2006.


And the number of people in Caldwell County’s labor force, which is those who have jobs plus those who are actively looking for jobs, surpassed 37,000 for the first time since October 2012, according to statistics maintained by the Federal Reserve. A rising labor force is generally a sign of rising confidence among workers, especially the long-term unemployed.


The numbers reflect what employers across the region have been saying for months, including at the recent Caldwell Is Hiring job fair on Oct. 25, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


“It isn’t surprising to me, especially about the number working and the size of the workforce,” she said.


Because this unemployment report covers October, it may not reflect the effects of Heritage Home Group’s closure of its two Lenoir plants on Nov. 2. Those plants employed more than 700 in August when the company announced it planned to close them, but many took other jobs in the following two months.


The increase in Caldwell County’s unemployment rate from September to October was in line with the increases seen across the state and matched the change in Catawba County, where the rate rose 0.4 points to 3.1 percent. The rate in Burke County rose 0.3 points to 3.1.


Caldwell County also is tied for the third-best improvement in the unemployment rate since October 2017, when it was 4.7 percent. Caldwell has now seen 101 consecutive unemployment reports – covering almost eight and a half years – where the rate was lower than in the same month of the previous year.


“I’m very pleased with our continuous improvement and consistency,” Murray said.


The combined unemployment rate of the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area was 3.1 percent, the fourth-lowest among the state’s 15 metropolitan areas, behind only those of Asheville (2.8 percent), Raleigh (2.9) and Durham/Chapel Hill (3.0).

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