Is this a recovery? Unemployment hits 11 percent

Published 1:30 am Sunday, July 31, 2011

Courtesy N.C. Employment Security Commission

Beaufort County’s unemployment rate increased to 11 percent in June, a 0.5-percent increase over May’s unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, according to figures released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission.
Although Beaufort County’s unemployment rate returned to the 11-percent mark for the first time in several months, June’s jobless rate is not the highest jobless rate in during the past 18 months. The jobless rate for January 2010 reached 13 percent, according to ESC records.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased from 9.7 percent in May to 10.4 percent in June, according to ESC data. From May to June, unemployment rates increased in 91 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Rates declined in six counties, including Hyde County, and remained the same in three counties from May to June.
“What we are seeing is the number of school employees who are getting laid off and filing for unemployment-insurance benefits,” said Sharon Tyson with the ESC office in Washington. “I’m pretty sure that’s having an effect.”
Currently, Tyson said, many major area manufacturers such as Fountain Powerboats are doing little, if any, hiring. Washington-based Flanders Filters Corp. continues to accept online applications for employees at its Washington plant, Tyson said.
One factor, at least to some degree, in the increase in the state’s jobless rate is the state’s recent extension of unemployment benefits that drew many people back into the work force and counted as unemployed, said Larry Parker, spokesman for the ESC headquarters in Raleigh.
“It’s one factor among many,” said Parker when asked if recent layoffs of some state employees contributed to the increase in the state’s jobless rate. With more state employees expected to be laid off in July and August because of state budget cuts, the state’s jobless rate for July and August could reflect those layoffs, he said.
Parker also said Beaufort County has a history of its jobless rate increasing from May to June.
From June 2010 through May 2011 in Beaufort County, $21,576,546 in unemployment-insurance benefits have been paid. During that same period, slightly more than $4.7 billion in unemployment insurance benefits have been paid statewide.
“What we are seeing in most metropolitan areas across North Carolina is a loss in government employment,” said ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes in an ESC news release. “This is partially attributed to changes in local and state education at the end of the school year. The ESC’s mission, along with our economic and workforce development partners, is to put people back to work. Our 89 offices statewide provide a wide range of services to help those looking for work. Also, the new Career Transition Center is now open to assist those state employees who have been laid off or affected by reduction in force.”
North Carolina had 46 counties that were at or below the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate of 10.4 percent.
In June, Beaufort County’s work force (civilian) was reported at 20,743 people, with 18,464 of those people working, according to ESC figures. That left 2,279 members of the work force unable to secure employment. Beaufort County’s work force in May totaled 20,666 people. Of that number, 18,506 were working, according to ESC data. That left 2,160 people without jobs.
The work force (civilian) for June in Hyde County came to 3,359 people, with 3,126 members of the work force working, according to ESC data, leaving 233 people unable to find employment. Hyde County’s work force for May was reported at 3,084 people, with 2,863 members of that work force on the job. That left 221 people from that work force unemployed, according to ESC figures.
During June, Martin County’s work force (civilian) totaled 10,901 people, with 9,631 work-force members on the job, according to ESC figures. That left 1,271 people unable to secure employment. The work force in Martin County for May totaled 11,086 people. Of that number, 9,902 people were working, according to ESC numbers. Of that work force, 1,184 were jobless.
Washington County’s work force (civilian) came to 6,993 people in June, with 6,166 members of that work force working, according to ESC data, leaving 827 people unable to find work. In Washington County during May, the work force totaled 6,999 people, according to ESC data. Out of that work force, 791 people were unemployed, leaving 6,208 people working that month.
For June, no county had a jobless rate at 5 percent or below. There were 32 counties with unemployment rates between 5 percent and 10 percent. Sixty-eight counties had unemployment rates at 10 percent or higher, according to ESC figures.

Area Jobless Rates

Beaufort County
June 2011: 11%
May 2011: 10.5%
Change: + 0.5%

Hyde County
June 2011: 6.9%
May 2011: 7.2%
Change: – 0.3%

Martin County
June 2011: 11.7%
May 2011: 10.8%
Change: + 0.9%

Washington County
June 2011: 11.8%
May 2011: 11.3%
Change: + 0.5%

Source: N.C. Employment Security

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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