Area jobless rates falling

Published 11:22 pm Sunday, May 31, 2009

Contributing Editor

Unemployment rates in Beaufort, Hyde, Martin and Washington counties fell from March to April, according to data released Friday by the N.C. Employment Security Commission.
April was the second straight month in which jobless rates in those counties declined. Across the state, 83 of the 100 counties experienced drops in their unemployment figures in April. The state’s jobless rate for April was 10.5 percent, down 0.5 percent from 11 percent in March.
Of those four counties, only Hyde County had an unemployment rate for April below 10 percent. Its jobless rate for April was 8.2 percent, down from 12.4 percent in March.
Beaufort County’s jobless rate fell from 11.4 percent in March to 11.1 percent in April, a drop of 0.3 percent. In February, the county’s jobless rate was at 11.8 percent. A year ago, it was 6 percent.
Sterling Tripp, an agricultural employment consultant with the ESC office in Washington, holds some optimism that the two-month drop in jobless rates in Beaufort, Hyde, Martin and Washington counties will continue after several months of significant increases.
“I hope it’s leveling out,” Tripp said Friday.
The drop in unemployment rates likely is the result, at least in part, of the time of the year, Tripp said.
“A lot of the seasonal workers are back to work,” he said. “We’re still not seeing a lot of jobs in construction and manufacturing.”
The Washington office continues to handle plenty of claims for unemployment-insurance benefits, Tripp said.
“It’s probably holding pretty steady,” he said. “I don’t see a great increase in it, but I don’t see an great decrease either.”
Beaufort County’s work force totaled 21,248 people in April, with 18,884 of them with jobs and 2,364 without, according to ESC data. Beaufort County’s work force totaled 21,212 people in March, with 18,784 of them working and 2,428 of them without jobs.
Through Thursday, the ESC had paid out $787,458 in unemployment-insurance benefits within the past 30 days and $4,841,035 to date this year in Beaufort County.
Not one of the 100 counties had a jobless rate at 5 percent or below for April. Thirty-one counties had unemployment rates between 5 percent and 10 percent, with 69 counties experiencing jobless rates at or above 10 percent, according to ESC data.
Scotland County had the state’s highest unemployment rate in March at 17.3 percent. Orange County had the lowest jobless rate at 5.8 percent.
Area jobless rates
and related information
Hyde County jobless rates
April: 8.2 percent
March: 12.4 percent
A year ago: 6.3 percent
Martin County jobless rates
April: 10.2 percent
March: 10.3 percent
A year ago: 5.4 percent
Washington County jobless rates
April: 11.2 percent
March: 11.6 percent
A year ago: 6.7 percent