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Officials break down latest unemployment figures

Published 8:21pm Saturday, January 5, 2013

For about two years, Beaufort County’s unemployment rate has been like a seesaw — up one month, down the next month and sometimes hovering.
And that hovering is done around the 10-percent unemployment rate.
The county’s unemployment rate for November 2011 was 10.3 percent, up 0.3 percent from October’s jobless rate of 10 percent, according to figures release by the N.C. Division of Employment Security.
In November 2012, Beaufort County’s work force totaled 21,489 people, with 2,217 of those people unable to find employment and 19,272 people in the work force were working, according to DES figures. The county’s work force in October 2012 was at 21,547 people, with 2,158 of them without jobs and 19,389 of them employed.
That means the number of job-holders dropped by 117 people from October to November, according to DES figures.
Neal Anderson, supervisor of the DES office in Washington, expects that hovering at the 10-percent mark — with some slight movements up or down — to continue for the next several months. He does not anticipate any major changes that would significantly decrease the county’s unemployment rate so it remains in single-digit figures for several months in a row.
“In looking what made it up, there were 58 people who dropped out of the labor force compared to the prior month, and 59 more that were unemployed. That’s what made up the difference,” Anderson said Friday afternoon. “As far as any major hirings, we are not seeing it.”
The last time the county’s jobless rate was below 10 percent was December 2008 when it was at 9.3 percent. Since then, the highest unemployment rate in the county occurred in January 2010 when the rate hit 13 percent.
There are some things the city can do to help try to reduce the high jobless rates in the area, said Bobby Roberson, a member of the Washington City Council, on Saturday. He believes certain elements of the local job market are better suited, for now, to bring jobs to the area.
“I think the first thing we need to do is put in an economic package to bring the retail sales of personal establishments up. As we well know by know, the health-care industry has provided numerous jobs. I think with the baby-boomers that’s going to continue,” Roberson said. “I think what we need to do is concentrate on helping Beaufort County Community College train the work force and also help Vidant Health Care in Beaufort County to expand to meet the medical needs. That in itself will help us promote jobs.”
Roberson said he believes the city should help small businesses find ways to expand or recruit new businesses to the city, thus adding new jobs to the job market.
“I think one of the things we need to do is look at is the local market in terms of what we need to produce,” he said.
Roberson said the city’s hiring of a consultant to identify and bring new businesses, including retail businesses, to the city is a step in the right direction to bringing more jobs to the area.
“It is becoming a commonly held principle within municipalities across the country that retail is the new industry relative to increasing a community’s economic tax base,” Robert Jolly Jr., a spokesman for Retail Strategies, hired by the city for $30,000 to help it in retail recruitment and retention efforts, told the City Council earlier this year. “Maximizing retail potential enhances a community’s vitality, creates a stable employment platform and improves the quality of life within a community.”
The recent jobless figures released by DES do not include unemployed people whose unemployment insurance benefits expired and who are not listed as unemployed. Factor in those people and a county’s true jobless rate is higher.

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