Tri-County jobless rate up on month, down on year

Jul. 01, 2014 @ 08:02 PM

The Tri-County’s unemployment rate crept upward in May — though the region saw a decrease over the same period last year.

Vance County saw a seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 9.5 percent in May, up from a 9.2 percent adjusted rate in April, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Commerce and seasonally adjusted by East Carolina University’s Bureau of Business Research.

Warren County’s rate increased one-half percentage point to a revised rate of 9.1 percent in May, and Granville County’s rose to three-tenths of a percentage point to 7 percent.

James Kleckley, director of the Bureau of Business Research and an economist at East Carolina, said adjusting the numbers takes out seasonal trends that could skew the data, making the unemployment rate seem higher or lower than it actually is.

“The best example would be at the beach, you have the summer employment because of all the tourism, say, that comes into Dare County,” he said. “What you do is, in effect, take out the seasonability that’s in the data. So when you look at the numbers, you’re looking at the real economic growth that’s going on.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, levels of employment are affected by seasonal events — like Christmas season at a shopping mall — and, because of this, their influence on trends can be removed by adjusting the statistics from month to month.

Kleckley said employment numbers show the number of people who live in the county and have jobs while unemployment numbers should those looking for work.

“You can see that in Vance County employment increased by 13, but unemployment increased by 60,” he said. “So you had relatively more people coming in than new jobs, and that’s the reason the unemployment rate drifted upward.”

Comparing May 2014 with May 2013, however, paints a different picture.

Vance County’s jobless rate last year was in the double digits at an adjusted rate of 11.3 percent; last month’s rate of 9.5 percent represents a 1.8 percentage point decrease.

Warren and Granville counties also showed improvement on the year; Warren’s jobless rate dropped 1.9 percentage points and Granville’s 1.8 percentage points.

Still, the Tri-County has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the state, which sits at 6.4 percent for May 2014. Kleckley said this is common for rural areas.

Vance County’s revised rate for May put it near the bottom of the state’s 100 counties. It ranked 93. Warren sat at 90, and Granville’s rate put it at 44.

Orange and Chatham counties had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.9 percent, while Scotland County had the highest jobless rate at 12.8 percent.

The nation’s jobless rate was 6.3 percent in both April and May of this year.


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