4 counties report jobless rates higher than NC average


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Monday, March 19, 2018

Unemployment increased in all but seven North Carolina counties in January, with Perquimans County — which still had a jobless rate higher than the state average — the only area county to report a slight decrease.

Overall, N.C. Commerce officials said Friday the number of employed workers in the state decreased in January by 7,551 to slightly more than 4.7 million, while the number of persons unemployed increased by 16,597 to 230,510. That gave the state an average unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.

Pasquotank County continued to report the highest unemployment rate in the immediate area, 6.1 percent. That’s about a fourth-tenths-of-a-percent increase from December.

Perquimans County reported the area’s second-highest jobless rate in January, at 5.8 percent, which was actually a tenth-of-a-percent decrease from December. Perquimans’ unemployment rate in December also dipped by a tenth of a percent from November. 

Chowan County reported a jobless rate of 5.7 percent, an increase of three-tenths of a percent from December.

Currituck County reported an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, a sixth-tenths-of-a-percent increase compared to December. A large part of Currituck’s workforce is seasonal because the county is dependent on the hospitality industry.

The lone bright spots for the area were Camden and Gates counties, both of which posted unemployment rates of 4.5 percent — lower than the state average. Camden’s rate was a tenth of a percent higher than December, while Gates’ rate remained unchanged.

Statewide, numerous counties east of Interstate 95 continue to post high jobless rates. Hyde County, for example, reported the highest unemployment rate in the state, 14.6 percent. Tyrrell County reported a 10.6 percent rate and Dare County reported a 10.5 percent rate.

Hyde and Tyrrell are sparsely populated counties that rely on small businesses, agribusiness, the construction and seafood industries and government employment. Dare, like Currituck, is heavily dependent on the hospitality industry.

Meantime, the counties in North Carolina closest to full employment continue to be in the western part of the state and the Research Triangle region.

Buncombe County, the home of Asheville, posted a state-low 3.6 percent jobless rate, followed by Alexander County, which reported a 3.7 percent rate. Orange County, home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, posted the third-lowest rate at 3.8 percent.

The one plus for North Carolina generally is that since January 2017, the number of employed persons has increased 97,857, while the number of unemployed persons has decreased 23,674.