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Jobless rate edging closer to 10 percent

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s unemployment rate ticked up to 9.7 percent last month, compared to 9.2 in November and 11.1 percent the year before.
Unemployment rates increased in 97 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in December. Thirteen of the state’s metro areas also experienced higher unemployment rates. The December statewide rate, which has not been seasonally adjusted, was 9.5 percent.
December marked the second month in a row that the number of employed people in Rowan County dropped. Robert Van Geons, executive director for the Rowan County Economic Development Commission, said he will be concerned if the number drops again in January.
“The real statement on this economy will be what happens with the January numbers,” Van Geons said.
The number of employed people in Rowan peaked in 2012 at 66,242 in October and has fallen since. It decreased to 65,645 in November and then 64,493 in December.
However, the number of employed people still went up overall in 2012 from 62,063 in January 2012, he said.
The decrease after October’s peak disappointed Van Geons.
“We had hoped it would hold in November,” he said.
The drop in December, however, was not a surprise. The number of employed people in Rowan has fallen every December since 2005, Van Geons said, because of furloughs, plant maintenance and a hiring slow-down during the holidays.
While the number of people employed dropped by about 1,150 in December, the number of people listed as unemployed only went up by about 300. Van Geons said he expects many of the jobs lost in December to come back in January.
In December, the unemployment rate in Cabarrus County went up to 8.7 percent from 8.3 in November 2012.
In other counties surrounding Rowan:
• Davidson — 10.1 percent for December 2012, up from 9.5 percent in November 2012; December 2011 was 11.1 percent.
• Davie — 8.2 percent in December 2012, up from 8 percent in November 2012; 10.7 in December 2011.
• Iredell — 9.7 percent in December 2012, up from 9.1 percent in November 2012; 10.9 percent in December 2011.
• Stanly — 9.4 percent in December 2012, up from 9.1 percent in November 2012; 10.8 in December 2011.
Graham County had the highest unemployment rate at 18.5 percent, while Orange County had the lowest at 5.9 percent. Among the Metro areas, Rocky Mount at 12.5 percent experienced the highest rate, and Durham-Chapel Hill at 7.2 percent had the lowest.
When compared to the same month last year, rates dropped in 93 counties, increased in five and remained unchanged in two.
The number of workers employed (not seasonally adjusted) decreased in December by 58,847 to 4,262,359, while those unemployed rose 19,610 to 444,851. Since December 2011, the number of workers unemployed decreased by 29,895, while those employed increased by 93,514.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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