Jobless rates reflect positive and negative

Aug. 28, 2013 @ 02:41 PM

The latest report on local unemployment across the High Point area and North Carolina offers positive and negative signs for the present and future.
Unemployment rates decreased in 81 of North Carolina’s 100 counties from June to July while increasing in nine and remaining the same in 10, the N.C. Division of Employment Security reported Wednesday. The employment picture improves further compared to a year ago, as jobless rates decreased in 97 counties, increased in two and remained unchanged in one from last July to last month. But jobless rates remain at high levels historically in the wake of the Great Recession. And one advocacy group reports that much of the job creation last month took place in the lower-paying leisure and hospitality sectors.
The city of High Point jobless rate inched up slightly from 9.6 percent in June to 9.7 percent in July, according to the Division of Employment Security. But the city employment situation is better than a year ago, when the jobless rate was 10.3 percent in July 2012.
Jobless rates ticked down slightly in Guilford, Davidson and Randolph counties. Guilford’s rate dropped from 9.8 percent in June to 9.6 percent in July, Davidson’s level slipped from 9.7 percent to 9.6 percent and Randolph’s rate declined from 9.2 percent to 9 percent, according to the state employment agency.
Despite the monthly and yearly declines in unemployment in most parts of the state, jobless levels remain elevated by normal standards, said John Quinterno, a principal with the Chapel Hill-based economic research firm South by North Strategies.
As of last month, 38 counties and three metropolitan areas posted unemployment rates of at least 10 percent.
“In July 2008, in contrast, three counties and no metro areas logged unemployment rates of at least 10 percent,” Quinterno said.
Last month, the state gained 8,200 more jobs than it lost, South by North Strategies reports.
However, much of the job growth was in the lowest-paying employment sector of leisure and hospitality, according to the N.C. Justice Center advocacy group out of Raleigh.
“This industry pays $8.30 an hour (on average), more than $12 below the statewide average,” the Justice Center reports.
The leisure and hospitality industry was the fastest-growing industry sector in the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan area during the past year, with a job growth rate of 10.5 percent, according to the Justice Center.

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