March saw surge in local labor force

Apr. 30, 2014 @ 08:36 AM

More Caldwell County residents reported finding jobs in March than in February, but more also said they were looking for work again, so the local unemployment rate ratcheted up for the month.

Caldwell’s unemployment rate for March was 7.4 percent, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. The rate for February, originally reported as 7.1 percent, was revised down to 7.0 percent.

The number of people in Caldwell County reported as employed went up by nearly 300, but the number of unemployed went up by more than 150. Combined, that meant that the size of the county’s labor force climbed by more than 400, a possible sign that some of the long-term unemployed who had dropped out of the labor force feel encouraged enough to look for jobs again, said Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.

"We showed good, strong growth in the labor force and growth in the number of people employed," she said. "Both those numbers are heading in the right direction."

The EDC is still receiving first-quarter reports on hiring by companies the EDC helped with expansion or relocation plans, she said, and may have those numbers soon.

Caldwell was among 23 counties in North Carolina seeing an increase in the unemployment rate for March, while the rate went down in 59 counties – including Catawba, where it went from 7.3 percent to 7.1 – and was unchanged in 18, including Burke, at 7.0. The county-by-county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted, so they can go up and down more than the seasonally adjusted statewide rate.