10-29-2020 – Job growth seen moving slowly

Posted on: October 29th, 2020 by admin


October 29, 2020



  • By Guy Lucas guylucas@newstopicnews.com
  • Oct 28, 2020 Updated 13 hrs ago


The latest local unemployment numbers paint a picture of an economy in slow recovery mode, both in this region and statewide.


Caldwell County’s unemployment rate creeped up 0.2 percentage point to 7.5% in September, mirroring a statewide trend of small job gains against lingering losses from the COVID-19-related shutdowns in the spring, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division report showed.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said it is hard to draw conclusions about the local economy from the unemployment reports since the pandemic struck.


“It is very encouraging to see the increase in the number of people working, in fact, it is the largest number of people working since March. It is tempting to read success into improving numbers, but not all numbers are heading in the right direction,” she said.


Local unemployment rates rose in 95 of the state’s 100 counties as fewer than 100,000 people gained jobs and a similar number of jobless people rejoined the labor force, the report showed.


In Caldwell County, the number of residents with jobs rose by about 800, but the number rejoining the labor force rose by about 900.


The good news from that is that because those who are not seeking work are not counted as part of the labor force, a growing labor force generally is seen as a sign of confidence in the economy as the long-term unemployed resume trying to find work.


But according to a breakdown of employment by sectors of the economy, by far the largest number of job gains both locally and statewide were in government — in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area, government employment increased by more than 1,000 from the August report. Since the report covers the period from mid-August to mid-September, those gains probably are largely related to the new school year starting.


Most employment sectors saw little change.


Manufacturing and leisure/hospitality were the strongest in the Hickory region, each gaining about 300 jobs from August to September, while four of the 10 sectors in the report had no significant change.


Murray said she knows that “families have been forced to make tough decisions to navigate COVID waters” and many are struggling, but against that backdrop she also knows from job listings that the EDC receives that there are many jobs available in Caldwell and surrounding counties.


“Employers are starved for workers to meet the increases in demand for their products. It is truly a different time,” she said.


Neighboring Burke and Catawba counties had similar numbers as Caldwell, with the unemployment rate rising by 0.3 points in both, to 6.6% in Burke and 7.2% in Catawba.


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