Keith Strange Civitas News Service
January 12, 2014
For the third month in a row the number of unemployed workers in Surry County has dropped, according to figures released this week by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security (DES).
But those numbers may be misleading, according to a department spokesman. The actual number of people with jobs in the county also declined slightly.
According to the DES, the county’s jobless rate fell four-tenths of a percent in November, dropping to 7.4 percent. This is down from the 7.8 percent rate in October.
During November, the county reported 2,355 workers seeking a job out of a civilian labor force of 32,016. In October, the county reported 2,533 workers seeking employment out of a labor force of 32,292. That means 29,661 people were employed in November, a reduction from the 29,759 who were employed in October.
In September, the county reported a jobless rate of 7.9 percent, down from the August rate of 8.7 percent, according to the Department.
While the decline in the county’s jobless rate may seem encouraging, one official with the DES said it could simply be the result of a decline number of people in the labor force.
“For the past couple of months (the jobless rate) has been steadily dropping, but over the year, the number of employed is fairly static while the number of unemployed has gone down (suggesting a net loss in the labor force itself),” said Larry Parker, a spokesman for the department.
Noting that the county’s jobless rate is down a full 2.3 percent from November 2012, Parker said the decline in available workers is a trend throughout North Carolina.
“That is typical for the state as a whole,” he said. “(Surry County) has seen a lot of people leaving the labor force, and that can be for a variety of reasons, but it’s certainly not unique to the county.”
Stokes County reported a marked decline in its unemployment rate in November, falling seven-tenths of a percent to 6.2 percent. In October, Stokes County reported a jobless rate of 6.9 percent.
In November, Stokes County had 1,481 workers seeking a job out of a civilian labor force of 23,856.
During the month of September, Stokes County reported a jobless rate of 7.1 percent.
Yadkin County’s unemployment rate also fell in November, dropping two-tenths of a percent to 5.7 percent from an October rate of 5.9 percent.
The county reported 1,064 workers seeking a job in November out of a civilian labor force of 18,800, the DES reported.
Wilkes County also saw a drop in its jobless rate in November, reporting a 7.8 percent rate, with 2,254 workers seeking a job out of a civilian labor force of 28,878.
In October, the county reported a jobless rate of 8.5 percent, down from a September rate of 8.7 percent.
Alleghany County was the one bleak spot in the region, with its jobless rate climbing one-tenth of a percent in November to 7.5 percent.
The county reported 322 workers seeking employment out of a civilian labor force of 4,320, according to the DES.
Statewide, North Carolina’s jobless rate in November was 7.4 percent, down six-tenths of a percent from October’s rate of eight percent.
While November’s rate was a full two percentage points below the November 2012 rate, Parker noted that the number of people unemployed decreased by more than 28,000 between October and November. Over the year, the number of people identifying as unemployed decreased by more than 101,000.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.