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County unemployment rate drops slightly to 9.5 in October

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

Unemployment rates have decreased in 76 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including Brunswick County.

According to the latest data released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division, Brunswick County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from 9.8 percent this past September to 9.5 percent in October.

The county’s latest monthly unemployment rate is 1.6 percent lower than it was a year ago, when it was 11.1 percent in October 2011.

Eli Smith, manager of the Brunswick County Division of Workforce Solutions, said the Cape Fear region in general has had an increase in employment in construction. He said there has also been a slight increase in manufacturing, along with some increase in information-type jobs.

“All three experienced a very positive increase during the month of October,” Smith said.

At the same time, his office has begun seeing an influx in seasonal workers coming in to file for unemployment as restaurants shut down or scale back on staff for the off-season.

“Those folks are going to be unemployed for several months until springtime and things rebound,” he said.

Until that time, Smith anticipates an increase in unemployment numbers attributable to a decline in tourist-related business activity.

Statewide, unemployment rates increased in 16 counties and were unchanged in eight counties in October.

Compared to the same month last year, unemployment rates have declined in 98 counties, according to statistics.

North Carolina had 39 counties that were at or below the state’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 8.8

percent. Unemployment rates decreased in all 14 of North Carolina’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

Statewide, the number of workers employed (not seasonally-adjusted) increased in October by 51,810—to 4,343,583. Those unemployed fell 5,314—to 416,631. Since October 2011, the number of workers unemployed has decreased 64,511. The number employed increased 142,497.

Scotland County had the state’s highest unemployment rate in October at 15.7 percent. Currituck County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 5.5 percent.

State unemployment rates also dropped slightly in neighboring counties in October—to 11.4 percent in Columbus County, 9.8 percent in Pender County and 8.5 percent in New Hanover County.

Another area affecting unemployed workers comes next month, Smith said, when the federal extended benefit program is scheduled to end Dec. 29.

Based on numbers Smith saw a few weeks ago, he said that will have impact on 799 Brunswick County individuals whose federal benefits will end on that date.

“We’re still going to be helping all individuals, help them look for jobs and do what we can as far as preparing them for jobs, with general resources and tools to assist in any way that they want to come in and make use of us,” Smith said.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.