Jobless rates keep falling
Jobless rates across the area and state continued dropping back toward pre-Great Recession levels during December.
The city of High Point unemployment rate fell from 7.1 percent in November to 6.7 percent in December, according to figures released Wednesday by the N.C. Division of Employment Security. The last time the jobless rate was at 6.7 percent in the city was September 2008, just as the financial and housing industry collapse spiralled the nation into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The city’s job market has made significant strides from a year ago — in December 2012, the High Point jobless rate was 9.7 percent.
Counties in the High Point area reflect the trend. Guilford County’s jobless rate has dropped from 9.6 percent in December 2012 to 6.9 percent this past December. Davidson County's unemployment level has fallen from 10.1 percent in December 2012 to 6.9 percent this past December, while Randolph County’s rate has declined from 9.6 percent to 6.3 percent, according to the Division of Employment Security.
Statewide, jobless rates from November to December declined in 86 counties, went up in 11 and remained unchanged in three, according to the state job service agency. All 14 of North Carolina’s metropolitan areas — including the Greensboro-High Point area — recorded lower unemployment rates from November to December.
Still, the debate rages about how much of the decline is due to strong job creation and how much results from discouraged job-seekers dropping out of the labor force, which means they’re no longer counted among the unemployed actively searching for work.
“Between December 2012 and December 2013, unemployment rates fell in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over the same period, however, the number of people who reported having jobs actually decreased in 42 counties and six metro areas,” said John Quinterno, a principal with economic research firm South by North Strategies out of Chapel Hill.
During last year, the size of the labor force decreased in 92 counties and in the state’s 14 metropolitan areas, he said.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that local unemployment rates across North Carolina remain elevated,” Quinterno said. “In December, 99 counties and 14 metro areas posted unemployment rates greater than those logged six years ago.”
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