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Local & State

Eastern, rural NC counties miss out on state's employment recovery
Great Recession's grip hasn't loosened
 
Published Wednesday, June 7, 2017 3:24 pm
by Herbert L. White

Unemployment in parts of Eastern North Carolina hasn't returned to pre-recession levels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Recession is long past, but Eastern North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high.


June local labor market data points to an alarming trend with 20 counties in the region with unemployment rates at least a percentage point higher than the state average of 4.3 percent.

While the state – especially urban regions like Charlotte and Raleigh – are in recovery from the Great Recession, rural and eastern areas are struggling. Nine counties in the East have higher unemployment than before the Great Recession. In December 2007, the total unemployed in these counties registered 12,721, compared to April 2017’s 13,069.

“The epicenter of North Carolina’s recovery seems to run along interstates 40 and 85 but it has bypassed the state's 95 corridor,” said William Munn, a policy analyst for the Budget and Tax Center, which is part of the NC Justice Center. “In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a robust state and federal investment oriented towards employing local residents and contracting with local businesses could go a long way to driving improvements in Eastern NC and for the state as a whole.”

Other significant details from labor data:

• Unemployment rates in Wilson, Tyrrell, Nash, Hoke Sampson, Halifax, Martin, Wayne, and Washington counties remain above pre-recession levels. Wilson County has almost 15 percent more unemployed residents than in December 2007. After nearly eight years of recovery, more than 13,000 residents in those counties are without jobs.

• Sampson, Wilson, Robeson, Northampton, Halifax, Martin, Richmond, Hyde, Scotland, Chowan, Washington, and Tyrrell counties have all lost 10 percent or more of their labor force since 2007. In particular, Tyrrell, Washington, Chowan, and Scotland have lost 31, 26, 22, and 19 percent of their labor forces, respectively, since before the recession.

•Fayetteville, Goldsboro, and Wilmington have seen their unemployment rate either rise or remain flat since 2007. Wilmington and Goldsboro have seen their unemployment rates rise to 6 and 8 percent respectively. On the other hand, larger cities including Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Burlington have seen significant drops in unemployment.

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