5-29-2020 – Caldwell County COVID-19 Job Losses

Posted on: May 29th, 2020 by admin

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May 29, 2020

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By Guy Lucas
guylucas@newstopicnews.com

May 28, 2020 5:51 PM

 

Business closures and restrictions related to COVID-19 drove more than 6,800 Caldwell County residents to file for unemployment benefits, and the hardest hit were workers in manufacturing, according to a new state report.

 

A total of 2,532 filed initial unemployment claims related to COVID-19 in March, and another 4,282 filed in April, the N.C. Department of Commerce reported.

 

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10 due to COVID-19 and since then has issued several orders closing or curtailing businesses in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus that causes it.

 

Statewide in April, the Commerce Department’s Division of Employment Security received 494,728 initial claims for unemployment benefits, with 395,794 of these claims – or 80 percent – citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the job loss, according to a department press release. In March, 282,947 of 339,885 initial claims, 83 percent, cited COVID-19.

 

The state is not scheduled to report county-by-county unemployment rates until the middle of next week, and it is difficult to know what Thursday’s report might indicate about those rates. Special provisions by the state and federal governments extended unemployment benefits to many categories of workers who would not normally be eligible, including workers who were still employed but whose hours had been reduced. Also, some employers laid off workers for a few weeks, then brought some or all back.

 

In February, the last full month before COVID-19 began affecting the state’s economy, an estimated 1,325 Caldwell County residents were unemployed, and the county’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent.

 

Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said she will have to talk to a lot of employers in various industries before she can figure out how to read the new numbers.

 

“It is really overwhelming. It is difficult to assess which ones are returning to work this week or shortly with the easing of restrictions versus the ones that permanently lost jobs,” she said. “I suppose those numbers will be fleshed out over the coming months.”

 

She said the EDC continues to publicize the large number of jobs that local employers have available, despite the economic slowdown.

 

“Regardless, one thing is for sure — we have our work cut out for us. We will be studying these statistics to best understand positive next steps as quickly as possible,” she said.

 

More than 85 percent of the initial unemployment claims filed in Caldwell County in both March and April were attributed to COVID-19.

 

Hardest hit locally was the manufacturing sector, which accounted for 36.9 percent of the new unemployment claims in March and 42.5 percent in April.

 

That contrasts with how the state overall was affected: Leisure and hospitality jobs were hurt the most, accounting for 29 percent of all initial claims in March and 15.2 percent in April, while manufacturing accounted for just 10.1 percent in March and 12.4 percent in April.

 

Because of that contrast, mature workers in Caldwell County were far more affected because workers in manufacturing tend to be older and higher-paid on average than in leisure and hospitality.

 

Workers in the 45 to 54 age group accounted for just under 24 percent of the initial filings for the two months in Caldwell County.

 

Statewide, however, young workers 25 to 34 accounted for the greatest percentage of filings – 28.8 percent in March and 24.2 percent in April.

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