Caldwell County unemployment drops

Jul. 31, 2014 @ 08:18 AM

Caldwell County’s unemployment rate and the total number of unemployed dropped from May to June.

The unemployment rate for June was 7.3 percent, down from 7.5 percent, and the number of people counted as unemployed dropped by 145, to 2,670, the N.C. Division of Employment Security reported.

Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said she had been braced for the unemployment rate to rise slightly since more people start looking for work in the summer months.

“We’re holding our own ... and trending in the right direction,” she said, citing the reduction in the number of unemployed. “As long as that is going down it’s still a good thing.”

The size of the county’s labor force shrank for the first time in months, from nearly 37,400 in May to under 36,900 in June, interrupting a months-long trend of slow but steady increases that indicated increasing confidence by the long-term unemployed that more jobs were available.

But the major factor in the labor force dropping was the end of the school year, as many school workers’ contracts end in May and those workers go on hiatus until the new school year begins, said Larry Parker, public information officer for the Division of Employment Security. It happens every June, he said.

As a result, the labor force dropped in 80 of the state’s 100 counties, and all 18 counties where the labor force rose were either mountain or coastal counties dependent on summer tourism, which traditionally picks up starting with Memorial Day in late May. Mecklenberg County, with one of the state’s healthiest economies, saw its labor force drop by more than 6,500 workers.

In the Hickory/Lenoir/Morganton metropolitan area, the number of government jobs dropped by about 1,900 from May to June, which Parker said would be primarily school jobs. The Division of Employment Security reports changes in the number of jobs by industry sector but does not break out schools from other government jobs.