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Rowan jobless rate up to 13.6 percent

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Rowan County’s jobless rate spiked to 13.6 percent in May, and it’s thought to be the highest rate since the early 1980s.
The Employment Security Commission reported that 9,763 Rowan Countians were unemployed in May out of a labor force of 71,940.
Rowan County’s adjusted unemployment rate for April was 12.5 percent.
Debbie Davis, head of the ESC’s JobLink center in Salisbury, said she thinks the percentage of unemployed in Rowan is the highest since the early ’80s, which included a 17.3 rate for July 1982.
But Davis said she sees signs of encouragement as local companies have been “talking to us about hiring some folks.”
“We’re about to head in a better direction,” Davis predicted. She acknowledged the hard numbers aren’t there yet to support a turnaround, but she is optimistic.
She added that some Rowan companies have jobs available now.
The May rate included the most recent Freightliner group of employees who were laid off, Davis said.
Twenty other counties in North Carolina had jobless rates the same or higher than Rowan County in May, according to the ESC. Scotland County had the highest rate at 17.2 percent.
The five counties receiving the highest amount of unemployment insurance benefits were Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Gaston and Forsyth.
Iredell County came in the seventh highest in the state with more than $6.3 million in unemployment benefits paid out in May and Rowan County was eighth at almost $5.5 million.
North Carolina’s statewide unemployment was 11.1 percent in May.
The ESC said jobless rates in 82 of the state’s 100 counties went up in May.
“All of the state’s 100 counties continue to be challenged by this recession,” said ESC chairman Moses Carey Jr. “But, in its role to help maintain economic stability in communities across North Carolina, the ESC has paid nearly $3 billion in benefits over the course of the year.”
Carey said the ESC continues to work with clients from 89 different offices and over the Internet and telephone “to make sure those seeking work can find a position and those needing unemployment benefits receive those monies.”
Here are the May unemployment rates in the counties touching Rowan and the increase from April:
– Cabarrus County, 11.4 percent, up from 10.8 percent in April.
– Davidson County, 13.4 percent, up from 12.6 percent.
– Davie County, 12.7 percent, up from 11.3 percent.
– Iredell County, 12.9 percent, up from 12.6 percent.
– Stanly County, 12.5 percent, up from 11.5 percent.

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