4-14-2020 – Local economy better than others, official says

Posted on: April 15th, 2020 by admin


April 14, 2020



By Guy Lucas

Apr 14, 2020 10:18 AM


Employers in the Hickory region seem to be faring better overall during the economic crisis than those in other parts of the state, a regional workforce development official said.


There are more than 5,500 job openings in the region that employers are actively trying to fill, including such large employers as Merchants Distributors Inc., Carolina Base Pac and Hickory Springs Manufacturing, said Wendy Johnson director of the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board. And some employers have shut down operations only because the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted their international supply chain.


“I’m still astounded, talking to employers, at the number that are still working,” she told the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission’s board of directors during a video conference call on Tuesday.


She said she was hopeful that when jobless reports for the current period come out in a couple of months, they will show the local unemployment rate remained well below 10 percent.


Local employers appear to have benefitted from their experiences coping with the effects of the Great Recession after 2008, she said.


“We learned a lot from the recession in terms of saving and having Plan B’s,” she said.


Employers who have laid off workers, and those workers themselves, have been frustrated that the state unemployment system has been overloaded with claims, causing technical problems with the website for filing claims, but those are starting to improve, Johnson said.


In particular, on Monday the state fixed a problem that had prevented employers from filing “attached claims,” which is filing on behalf of all of their laid-off workers, she said.


But the unemployment system remains under strain from the volume of claims, and it will take time for the system to catch up, she said.


“We’re just telling people to file and work through the system,” she said.

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