Slide in local unemployment continues

Caldwell rate now better than most in NC
Jan. 08, 2014 @ 08:43 AM

Another monthly unemployment update, another recovery milestone reached.

The unemployment rate for Caldwell County fell to 7.5 percent in November, the N.C. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday. The last time the rate was that low was June 2008.

That also was a drop of nearly a full percentage point from October’s 8.3 percent, tied for the 12th-best improvement from October. That lifted Caldwell out of the bottom 50 county unemployment rates in the state (Caldwell is now 49th out of 100) – and put Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, in a jubilant mood.

“What a way to kick off the new year,” she said, and she made a prediction. “We anticipate 2014 will show the largest growth in new jobs in our county, a record number of new jobs in our county.”

Since August, employment has grown by nearly 600, 353 of that just from October to November, she said, and a number of employers have announced plans for hiring in the first and second quarters of 2014.

An improving employment picture should also help business-recruitment efforts, Murray said.

“New businesses and industries like to come where things are happening,” she said.

Since reaching its peak of 17 percent in February 2010, the county’s unemployment rate has seen generally small but steady year-over-year improvement. But in the past year, the change has accelerated.

From November 2012 to November 2013, Caldwell’s unemployment rate dropped by 3.3 percentage points, the ninth-biggest drop in the state, the commerce report said.

The statewide unemployment rate for November was 6.9 percent.

In recent months Caldwell’s rate also has been lower than those in neighboring Burke and Catawba counties – Burke’s dropped from 8.3 percent in October to 7.7 percent, and Catawba’s dropped from 8.6 to 7.8 percent.