Editorial: Caldwell County economic progress slow but steady

Jul. 05, 2013 @ 09:21 AM

Efforts to reduce the local unemployment rate are like trying to lose weight for the long haul: It can seem maddeningly slow, and you might wonder whether everything you’re doing is actually working.

It took no time at all, less than two years, for the rate to shoot from 6.2 percent in April 2008 to 17.1 percent in February 2010.

Destruction is easier than creation. A fire can destroy in hours a forest ecosystem that developed over centuries, and after the fire it will take years before any kind of forest grows to fill the void. The Twin Towers came down in a sudden rumble in 2001; the Freedom Tower replacing them still isn’t finished.

The progress in the local economy has been incremental but steady, amounting to an average of about 15 jobs a month since the start of 2013, according to figures from the N.C. Department of Commerce. The methods used to arrive at the state's numbers are based in part on surveys and statistical adjustments, so the precise numbers in the reports can be misleading. But such statistics, like opinion polls, are intended to illustrate long-term trends more than right-now conditions. Looked at broadly over time, the trend is clear.

Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, points to not just established local industries that have been gradually increasing their hiring but also to several of the new ones that the EDC has been able to bring here and that are just now hiring or soon about to. By itself it's reason for continued optimism.

Together with a national economy that still is regaining its strength, it provides hope that the trend of slow but steady progress will accelerate.