7/2/2019 – Report shows job market strength

Posted on: July 2nd, 2019 by admin

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July 2, 2019

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By Guy Lucas

 

Jul 02, 2019 2:44 PM

Caldwell County’s labor force has steadied from the autumn shock of two plant closings, and the local unemployment rate in recent months has resumed moving in concert with that of its regional neighbors, the N.C. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday.

 

More important is the growth in jobs and the labor force, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.

 

Reports from the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division over the past six months show the number of Caldwell residents with jobs has remained at or near a 12-year high, and the labor force has been at or near an eight-year high.

 

In May, the number of county residents with jobs was approaching 35,700, and the labor force – the number of those with work combined with the number seeking jobs – was nearly 37,300.

 

Murray said that those numbers are now more important measures of economic progress than the unemployment rate, which in May rose by 0.5 percentage points from April to 4.3 percent.

 

“Yes, the unemployment rate went up, but not because of a loss of jobs — it increased because of the increase in the number of people looking for jobs,” she said. “This holds promise and stability for the economy and employers for the immediate future.”

 

Due to seasonal factors, the unemployment rate rose in 95 of the state’s 100 counties.

 

The increase in Caldwell’s unemployment rate was in line with increases in nearby counties. Burke’s rate rose by 0.5 points to 3.9 percent, and Catawba’s rose 0.4 points to 3.7 percent.

 

Only 14 counties in the state had changes smaller than 0.4 percentage points.

 

The closure of two Heritage Home Group plants in Lenoir last fall after that company filed for bankruptcy protection in July jolted the local unemployment rate in the final months of 2018, but in 2019 the numbers have gone back to their previous pattern of matching or outperforming most other counties’ numbers.

 

Murray noted that comparing the number of Caldwell residents with jobs in May 2019 to the number in May 2018 underlines the county’s overall progress despite the temporary setback last fall.

 

“Three-hundred forty-six more people working in May 2019 over May 2018 means more Caldwell County paychecks received,” she said.

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