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New unemployment claims down in August, could indicate positive trend for businesses

SALISBURY — New unemployment insurance claims were down in Rowan County in the month of August.

There were 890 initial unemployment claims in Rowan County in August, 449 of which were COVID-19 related, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Both of those numbers were down from July, when there were 1,793 initial claims — 1,080 of which were related to Coronavirus.

One factor in the decline in unemployment claims could be a general trend toward businesses reopening and hiring back new employees or bringing back old ones, said Rod Crider, the president of the Rowan County Economic Development Commission. 

“I think a couple things that might explain it is that some businesses that have been restricted in terms of their ability and the amount of time they can operate, some of those restrictions were lifted during that time period,” Crider said. “That then would require those businesses to bring more people back to work.”

Restrictions on business operations loosened in September when Gov. Roy Cooper moved the state into phase 2.5, allowing gyms, museums and some other businesses to reopen under certain conditions.

Crider said that existing Rowan County companies like Chewy and Continental Structural Plastics have recently increased their hiring efforts, which could also contributed to a lower number of unemployment claims.

“Chewy ramped up and got to their 1,200 head count during that time period. We thought that might take until the end of the year to happen but it happened quicker,” Crider said. “… I think that you have other employers who are ramping up and expanding like Continental Structural Plastics and other companies who are manufacturing to meet demand for their products. It’s probably a combination of different things.”

Since beginning operations in the spring, Chewy has already hired over 1,200 people at its facility and said that it will add about 200 more by the end of the year. After announcing an expansion to its existing facility in blank, Continental Structural Plastics has announced that it is looking to hire 100 new employees.

Lowering unemployment claims could be a trend that continues, Crider said.

The fall in unemployment insurance claims in Rowan County mirrored that of the rest of North Carolina. In the state, initial claims decreased from 158,717 in July to 80,350 in August.

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