Jobless rate falls slightly

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contributing Editor

Beaufort County’s unemployment rate fell by one-tenth of 1 percent from July to August, moving from 10.6 percent in July to 10.5 percent in August, according to information released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission.
That change continues a trend of the county’s unemployment rate fluctuating by one-tenth or two-tenths of 1 percent in recent months.
When asked how long that trend likely will continue, Patrick Oswalt, supervisor of the ESC office in Washington, said, “I think through December.”
“I don’t see anything on the horizon that’s going to make much of a difference,” Oswalt said about factors that could substantially change Beaufort County’s jobless rate.
Oswalt said he has no idea what the upcoming new year may hold as far as unemployment in Beaufort County and surrounding areas.
Oswalt said several census-related jobs were lost because the local census work has been completed, but the beginning of a new school year resulted in other jobs becoming available.
“It’s a wash,” he said.
Beaufort County’s unemployment rate has been at least 10 percent each month since January 2009. In January of this year, it was at 12.3 percent, the highest it’s been since January 2009.
Unemployment rates dropped from July to August in 82 of the state’s 100 counties, according to the ESC data. The state’s jobless rate for August was at 9.8 percent, down from 10 percent in July. Jobless rates increased from July to August in 10 counties and remained the same in eight counties.
For August, Beaufort County’s work force totaled 20,796 people. Of that number, 18,607 people were working. That left 2,189 members of the work force without employment. For July, Beaufort County’s work force was at 20,887 people. Of that number, 18,683 were on the job. That left 2,204 people unable to secure employment.
“Unemployment rates continued to drop in most of the state’s 100 counties in August,” said ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes. “However, while the rates of lowered, current economic conditions continue to be a challenge for many communities across North Carolina as the unemployment rate remains at 10 percent or over in half of the state’s counties. Our staff across the state continues to provide assistance to those seeking unemployment benefits and those seeking employment opportunities.”
As of Friday, unemployed Beaufort County residents had received $1,229,820 in unemployment-insurance benefits during the past 30 days, according to ESC data. From Jan. 1 to Friday, Beaufort County residents have received $11,965,392 in unemployment-insurance benefits.
Hyde County’s jobless rate for August was 6.2 percent. Hyde County’s jobless rate was at 6 percent in July.
The unemployment rate for Martin County in August was 10.1 percent. Martin County’s jobless rate was at 10.3 percent in July.
In Washington County, the August jobless rate was 11 percent. Washington County’s jobless rate was at 11.3 percent in July.
In August, one county had a jobless rate at or below 5 percent, 49 counties had unemployment rates between 5 percent and 10 percent and 50 counties had jobless rates at or above 10 percent, according to ESC figures.
Scotland County had the highest jobless rate in August at 15.7 percent. Currituck County had the lowest jobless rate in August at 4.1 percent.