Rural jobless numbers climb back to 10 percent
N.C. Jobless Rate
After an April in which North Carolina's rural jobless numbers finally clicked below 10 percent, May's unemployment rate crept back into the double digits.
According to the N.C. Employment Security Commission, 219,721 people in the 85 rural counties were unemployed in May. Roughly the same number were unemployed in urban counties, but the percentage of unemployed rural people was higher: 10 percent vs. 8.9 percent.
In April, rural unemployment was measured at 9.8 percent, the first time it had been below 10 percent since December 2008. Statewide unemployment in May increased slightly to 9.4 percent.
The federal government sees no immediate economic light at the end of this years-long tunnel. In a recent report from the Federal Reserve, regulators reported tepid retail sales, mixed manufacturing numbers and a modest growth in lending throughout our region, which includes the Carolinas and Virginia.
In one of the report's lone bright spots, several Outer Banks hotel owners reported strong late spring sales and improved summer reservations in comparison with last year.
Even as the overall trends are beginning to improve — North Carolina's rural employment grew by 28,440 in the first five months of 2012 — there are still 47 rural counties still have unemployment rates of more than 10 percent and 12 with unemployment over 12 percent.
“It has been a long road to recovery in rural North Carolina,” said Anne Bacon, the Rural Center's senior director for workforce development. “Certain counties and certain groups – including young people, minorities, veterans and laid-off workers with outdated skills – have experienced especially high unemployment levels."