Caldwell County unemployment resists trend

Mar. 21, 2014 @ 05:08 PM

Caldwell County saw a tiny uptick in its unemployment rate for January, but a state official called it an expected seasonal change – and most counties saw a larger seasonal increase.

The unemployment rate for January was 7.6 percent, up from 7.5 percent in December. Unemployment increased in 96 of the state’s 100 counties and stayed even in two, a normal occurrence because of the end of holiday-season jobs, said Larry Parker of the N.C. Department of Commerce.

“This is pretty typical for January, to have all the counties go up,” he said.

Like many counties, Caldwell had an increase in the size of the workforce, by more than 650, but it also had an increase of more than 500 in the number of people who reported being employed. Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said that indicates more people have the confidence to look for jobs and more are finding jobs.

"We ought to view this as very good news," she said. "It's a good vote of confidence."

The only counties that had a better month-to-month change in the unemployment rate than Caldwell were Hoke and Jones, where the unemployment rate declined slightly, and Burke and Gaston, where there was no change from December’s rate. Of the other 95 counties, 94 of them had a larger increase in unemployment than Caldwell did. Pender County, like Caldwell, saw a 0.1 percentage point increase.

Because most counties had higher increases in unemployment, Caldwell rose in the rankings. Caldwell’s unemployment rate of 7.5 percent ranked 59th in December, when the median among all counties was 7.3 percent, but its 7.6 percent ranked 47th in January, when the median rose to 7.7 percent.

When comparing January 2013 to January 2014, Caldwell has had the 13th-best improvement in the state in its unemployment rate, a decline of 4.4 percentage points. The rate was 12 percent in January 2013.