Tri-County jobless rate falls

Vance among counties with highest unemployment
May. 29, 2014 @ 01:33 PM

Unemployment rates for Vance, Granville and Warren counties continue to decrease, according to recently released data.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce released April unemployment numbers Wednesday showing Vance County had the 93rd highest unemployment rate of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

In March, with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, Vance ranked 89th. The county’s unemployment rate decreased 0.5 percentage points to 8.7 percent into April, but that put Vance County in the bottom 10 percent in the state for the first time since December 2013.

Still, the Tri-County has seen a more than 2 percent decrease over last April’s unemployment rate, when both Vance and Warren sat at more than 10 percent.

Vance’s labor force remained fairly flat from April to March; March’s revised labor force was 18,809 while April’s unrevised number was 18,750, a decrease of 59 people. They may have found jobs or simply stopped looking.

“I hope that is a sign of our economy wanting to recover,” said Terry Garrison, Vance County Commissioner and board member for the Vance County Economic Development Commission. “We have also realized that some people may have dropped out of the of the labor force, which could have accommodated for the numbers.”

Garrison said the commission is working with Triangle North, a rural economic development initiative dedicated economic growth in the region, to recruit in and out-of-state businesses.

“We are hoping we will become the main attraction for new industries,” he said.

Warren County’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.7 percentage points from March to April to rest at 8.2 percent, even though its rank jumped from 79th to 87th in the state.

“I think any drop in the rate is good; it’s always good to see the numbers going down,” director of the Warren County Economic Development Ken Bowman said. “You will see some positive steps going into the last year and next year, especially in Warren County, especially in the commercial end of it. We will be doing some recruiting to get businesses in Warrenton and some of the major thoroughfares.”

Bowman, who joined the commission in April, said he is still learning the ropes but pledges more opportunities in the next 12 months he hopes the county will be ready for.

“A lot of this has to do with the citizens and the workforce being ready to work,” he said. “You have to be proactive and aggressive to make sure that when you are looking for jobs that you are prepared for the workforce. I think that is what Warren County folks are doing now. They are looking to get out there and compete for those jobs in the workforce.”

Warren’s labor force increased slightly from 7,520 in March to 7,571 in April.

Granville County had unstable reports over the first half of 2014, but it has seen a sharp decrease in the most recent numbers. The county’s rate decreased from 7 percent in March to 6.3 percent in April.

Despite the decline, the county’s rank still increased two places. Granville’s unemployment rate is now ranked 45 out of 100 in North Carolina.

“Although our workforce is slightly less than March, it is higher than February,” said Bill Edwards, director of Granville County Economic Development. “We are fortunate that some of our industries in the northern end of the county are adding positions as well as in the southern end of the county. We currently have approximately 45 major business and industry employers that offer a wide range of products and services.”

Granville’s labor force contracted slightly from 26,472 in March to 26,366 in April.

Granville’s rate gets closer to North Carolina's statewide unemployment rate of 6 percent, but Vance County and Warren County’s numbers continue to sit high above it.

The county with the highest unemployment rate in April was Scotland County at 11.6 percent. Previously, Graham County had the highest rate.

The county with the lowest unemployment rate remains Orange County, who has seen a 0.7 percentage point decrease in its rate in April to rest at 4 percent.

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com