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Pitt County unemployment rate down in July


James Kleckley


By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Pitt County’s unemployment rate fell in July, the third drop in four months, signaling more job opportunities in an economy that continues to improve, according an economic expert from ECU.

The Pitt seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July was 4.2 percent, three-tenths of a point lower than the June rate of 4.5 percent and six-tenths of a percent lower than the rate in July 2017, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Business Research at East Carolina University.

Pitt County ranked at 60 among North Carolina’s 100 counties. The state’s unemployment rate in July was 4.1 percent, a one-tenth point drop from June’s rate of 4.2 percent and three-tenths of a point lower than the North Carolina unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in July 2017.

“The rates have varied up and down in the state and county the last three months, but it’s still good news,” ECU economist Jim Kleckley said. “Considering the parts of the state that have been overpassed by the good economic conditions, the numbers look good. The economy is growing and the unemployment rate is low, following the national lead that we’re seeing.”

Aside from newly employed people coming out of schools, colleges and universities, jobs also are going to people in the workforce who have been unemployed, even though those improvements have been incremental rather than dramatic, Kleckley said.

“We’re not seeing big turnarounds in (workforce) participation rates, but they have improved a little bit at a time,” he said. “Maybe people who had given up are coming back in because of this recovery that has been going on for a long time. It certainly should be the right time for some, although every case is individual; the talent has to match the job.”

From the employers’ perspective, it still can be difficult to find people skilled and qualified for what they do, but having people prepared to take advantage of opportunities created by an improving economy is important, Kleckley said.

“Some of the improvement certainly can be linked to increased collaboration among ECU, Pitt Community College and public schools to get students through the training process and into the workforce,” he said. “But there also are just more opportunities for the people who are going through that training and graduating. If the economy had not improved, people going through all that training still would have trouble finding a job.”

There were 86,856 people employed in Pitt County in July, an increase of 361 over June’s number and 1,877 more than were working in July of 2017, according to the data. There were 3,756 people unemployed in the county in July, 324 fewer than were jobless in June and 536 fewer than in July of 2017.

North Carolina employed 4,800, 661 people in July, an increase of 13,077 over June’s number and 70,096 more than were working in July 2017. The state had 203,407 unemployed people in July, a drop of 6,170 from June’s number and 13,678 fewer than the umber in July 2017, the data showed.

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) decreased in 84 of North Carolina’s counties in July, increased in four, and remained unchanged in 12, according to N.C. Commerce Department figures. Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, while Buncombe County had the lowest at 3.1 percent. Thirteen of the state’s metro areas experienced rate decreases, one increased, and one remained unchanged.

July Unemployment rates in regional counties include: Beaufort at 4.4 percent, down from 4.7 in June; Bertie at 5.0, down from 5.2; Chowan at 4.4, down from 4.8; Craven at 4.0, down from 4.3; Currituck at 3.7, down from 4.0; Duplin at 4.1, down from 4.6; Edgecombe at 6.8, down from 7.2; Greene at 3.9, down from 4.0; Hyde at 8.0, down from 8.5; Lenoir at 3.9, down from 4.2; Martin at 4.8, down from 5.2; Nash at 51., down from 5.6; Onslow at 4.2, down from 4.5; Pasquotank at 4.6, down from 5.0; Perquimans at 4.9, down from 5.2; Wayne at 4.1, down from 4.6; and Wilson at 6.2 percent, down from 6.4 in June.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.