5/31/2018 – Caldwell jobless rate drops to 18-year low at 3.6 percent

Posted on: May 31st, 2018 by admin


May 31, 2018


By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Local unemployment rates plunged across the state in April, helping Caldwell County break a barrier that had stood for nearly 18 years.


The county’s unemployment rate for April dropped 0.6 percentage points to 3.6 percent, the first time since December 2000 that it was under 4 percent, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.


And the number of county residents with jobs hit a post-recession high for the third month in a row, 35,435, according to the report. That’s the highest since July 2008, when more than 35,500 had jobs.


April tends to be historically one of the better months of the year for employment,  Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said, but this April was “exactly that and more, posting the best April in 18 years.”


“Since December 2017, the number of Caldwell residents employed has grown every month, adding nearly 700 to the ranks of the employed in just four months,” Murray said. “Credit goes to Caldwell employers who have committed to growth knowing that increased employment more often requires creative recruitment and employer-provided training. Companies are providing training on their own as well as through the community college to expand operations and meet the needs of their growing businesses. I am proud of the collaborative approach taken to meet the demand. This means opportunity especially for entry-level people — training is more frequently becoming a benefit of a new job as opposed to a requirement just to interview.”


The size of the labor force – the combination of those with jobs and those actively seeking jobs – dropped slightly but remained near 37,000.


Murray also noted that the numbers probably understate the local economy’s strength because surveys of local employers have shown that about 40 percent of new hires wind up living outside Caldwell County, due in part to a shortage of housing that meets modern consumer demands, especially apartments. People who work in Caldwell County but live elsewhere do not count toward the local employment number.


“I can’t let this opportunity go by without pointing out, just think of what Caldwell’s numbers will be when our housing inventory starts to show similar growth,” Murray said.


Caldwell’s unemployment rate is tied with those of seven other counties – including Mecklenburg (Charlotte) and Forsyth (Winston-Salem) – for 32nd-lowest in the state.


Neighboring Catawba and Burke counties also saw their unemployment rates drop 0.6 percentage points, to 3.3 percent for Catawba and 3.4 for Burke, giving the overall Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area a rate of 3.4 percent, tied with Charlotte for fourth-lowest among the state’s 15 metro areas. Asheville had the lowest rate, 3 percent, followed by Raleigh at 3.2 and Durham-Chapel Hill at 3.3.

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