Unemployment rate, number of employed back to ’08 levels

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rowan County’s unemployment rate fell in October to its lowest point since early 2008, according to data from to the state Department of Commerce.

The data, released Tuesday, show the county’s unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, down from 6.1 percent in September and 7.7 percent in October 2013.

It is the lowest the rate has been since it was 5.1 percent in April 2008. During the recession, the county’s rate peaked at 14.5 percent in February 2010.

A downside in the data is that the size of the county’s labor force continues to hover around 68,000, down from nearly 72,000 in 2012.

The number of unemployed people in the county was estimated at 3,776 in October, which is also the lowest estimate since April 2008 — it’s the first time the number of unemployed people in the county has dropped below 4,000 since 2008.

Robert Van Geons, executive director of the county’s economic development agency, said the new numbers are positive indicators. He also noted that the number of people working in the county, 64,100, is back to 2008 levels. That estimate had fallen to below 60,100 in early 2010.

Debbie Davis, Rowan County’s NCWorks branch manager, said people can find good jobs if they have the right skill set or are willing to learn.

“They need to have up-to-date skills,” she said about job seekers.

She said the job climate “is getting better” in the county, adding there are openings for positions in manufacturing, health care, security and several other sectors.

“We have a pretty good variety of jobs in the area,” Davis said.

People can see a list of job openings in the county by going to www.ncworks.gov. The Rowan County branch is at 1904 S. Main Street in Salisbury, and the phone number is 704-639-7529.

Davis said her office works not only with people trying to find a job, but also with people looking for a better job.

The office holds monthly and weekly workshops for job seekers focused on improving resumes, developing interview skills and other topics. The staff also helps people who have a criminal record find work.

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The national unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in November, unchanged from October, and 321,000 jobs were added, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the Associated Press, the number of available jobs in the country rose in October to the second-highest level in 14 years, and companies kept hiring at a healthy pace, adding to evidence of an improving economy.

Job openings increased 3.2 percent to 4.83 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday

“The overall figures paint a picture of a more dynamic job market, with businesses filling more open jobs and more Americans quitting, typically for better-paying opportunities,” the AP reported.

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North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in October.

Rowan County’s five neighboring counties all saw a drop in their unemployment rates from September to October.

Cabarrus County had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent for October while Davie County’s was 4.8 percent. Davidson and Iredell counties had rates of 5.7 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. Stanly County’s rate was 4.9 percent.

For the entire state, 98 counties saw a drop in the unemployment rate while two counties, Currituck and Dare, had slight increases.

Van Geons said although things are looking up, bringing good-paying jobs to the county will remain the top priority.

“Despite this increase, we know that we still have people looking for jobs, or better jobs, closer to home. We are going to continue doing everything we can to keep increasing the number and quality of opportunities for our citizens,” Van Geons said in an email.

Contact reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.