Jobless rates rise in three area counties|Recent rate changes aren’t as ‘dramatic,’ says local ESC director

Published 4:51 am Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Contributing Editor

Unemployment rates rose from April to May in Beaufort, Washington and Martin counties, but decreased in Hyde County, according to the N.C. Employment Security Commission.
The increases in Beaufort, Washington and Martin counties come after jobless rates fell for two consecutive months, March and April. For Hyde County, the decrease in May was the third straight month that county saw its unemployment rate fall.
Beaufort County’s unemployment rate increased from 11.1 percent in April to 11.5 percent in May, a 0.4 percent rise. Twelve months ago, it’s jobless rate was 6.8 percent. The state’s jobless rate for May was 11.1 percent, up 0.6 percent from April’s unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.
During the past three months, the changes in area jobless rates have been measured by tenths of a percentage point instead of whole percentage points, as was the case at the end of 2008 and the first two months of this year, said Pat Oswalt, director of the N.C. Employment Security office in Washington.
“It’s going to do that,” Oswalt said of the minor changes in jobless rates. “We’re just pretty level right now … not anything dramatic.”
Area counties continue to feel the economy’s influence on the job market, Oswalt said.
“We’re still taking quite a few (unemployment insurance) claims,” he said.
Unlike late last year and earlier this year, recent layoffs and job losses are scattered among several employers instead of happening at just one employer, Oswalt said.
In May, Beaufort County’s work force totaled 21,387 people, with 18,932 of them working and 2,455 unable to find work. The county’s labor pool totaled 21,248 people in April, with 18,884 of them with jobs and 2,364 without, according to ESC figures.
As of Monday, county residents had received $656,904 in unemployment-insurance benefits during the past 30 days. So far this year, residents have received $5,515,296 in benefits.
Not one of the 100 counties had a jobless rate at 5 percent or below for April. Twenty-eight counties had unemployment rates between 5 percent and 10 percent, with 72 counties experiencing jobless rates at or above 10 percent, according to ESC data. From April to May, 82 of the counties saw jobless rates increase.
Scotland County had the state’s highest unemployment rate in May at 17.2 percent. Currituck County had the lowest jobless rate in May at 6.3 percent.
Jobless rates and related information