Editorial: Caldwell County unemployment not helped by N.C. budget

Jul. 25, 2013 @ 06:07 AM

One effect of the budget approved Wednesday by the General Assembly will be a higher unemployment rate in Caldwell County, at least in the short term.

This is not a prediction, it’s math.

The budget will cut about 20 teacher’s aide positions from the county's elementary schools, and it closes the Western Youth Institution, a juvenile prison in Burke County that local officials said in May employs 53 Caldwell County residents.

The labor force in Caldwell is small – fewer than 40,000, according to state figures from May – so laying off another 70 or so people will have a noticeable effect on the local unemployment rate. In May the total number of unemployed in the county grew by 109, partly from more people rejoining the labor force and seeking work, a major factor in raising the local unemployment rate by 0.3 percentage points.

Local economic development officials have made a lot of progress chipping away at unemployment a few small companies at a time, showing incremental year-over-year progress. Legislative leaders say their budget will help North Carolina's economy in the long run, but it sure doesn't look like it will help Caldwell County in the short run.