State Unemployment Rate Continues Climb

North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month and the third time in the last four months, according to the August figures release by the state’s Department of Commerce.

LAST MONTH: Unemployment Up For Second Time In Three Months

Nearly 10,500 more people claimed unemployment compared to July while more than 28,500 fewer people had jobs, according to the release. That increased the state’s unemployment rate 0.3 percent to 6.8 percent.

That still shows a 1.2-percent improvement from August 2013 with nearly 29,000 more people claiming employment from 2013 to 2014.

These numbers are seasonally adjusted, already accounting for the shift in work patterns, such as schools not being in session over the summer.

The national unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percent from July to August this year and now sits at 6.1 percent.

August 2014 N.C. Unemployment Figures Release

OC Jobless Claims Down In June

Unemployment claims dropped in 81 North Carolina counties in June, according to the Department of Commerce’s not-seasonally-adjusted release Wednesday.

Orange County remained in the top five for best unemployment rates in the state, improving by 0.1 percent to 4.8. Polk County joined Chatham and Currituck already ahead of Orange, with Currituck topping the list at 4.2 percent.

The Triangle continued to show strong improvement with a May-to-June change of 0.2 percent fewer people claiming unemployment. From June 2013 to June 2014, 1.8-percent fewer people claimed to be without work.

To see the complete county-by-county breakdown for unemployment in North Carolina, click here.

Statewide unemployment rates for July are scheduled to release August 18. In June, North Carolina’s rate flattened out at 6.4 percent since peaking at 11.3 percent in February 2010.

NC In June: Fewer Employed, Jobless Rate Flat

More than 8,500 fewer people in North Carolina were employed in June compared to May, although the state’s jobless rate remained flat, according to the state Department of Commerce.

North Carolina’s 6.4 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June is now 0.3 percent higher than the national average and ranks the state tied for 32nd with Alaska. Bordering states South Carolina and Virginia are tied at 17th with 5.3 percent, Tennessee at 36th with 6.6 percent, and Georgia at 44th with 7.4 percent.

Unemployment claims in North Carolina fell by more than 2,100 people from May to June. Over the year, the number fell by more than 89,000 people, dropping the jobless rate from 8.3 percent in June 2013 to 6.4 percent this year.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate saw a small increase in May from its lowest point of 6.2 percent in April. That marked a low of more than five years, dating back to the start of the Great Recession.

County-by-county unemployment rates in North Carolina are scheduled to release July 30. To see the full breakdown of the state’s unemployment rate, click here.

State Unemployment Rate Hits Five-Year Low In January

North Carolina’s unemployment rate marked its lowest point in nearly six years this January, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

In the first month of the new year, the jobless rate fell 0.2 percent compared to the month prior and 2.1 percent from the year before.

The numbers reflect true improvement from between December and January with more than 17,000 people claiming new jobs while more than 11,000 people no longer claimed to be without employment.

North Carolina’s unemployment numbers are just about even with the national level of 6.6 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent marks the lowest point since November 2008, which was in the middle of a five-percent increase in about a year and a half.

The county-by-county unemployment rates are scheduled to be released this Friday.

Click here to see the unemployment rate release.

NC Ahead Of Schedule In Paying Off Federal Debt

RALEIGH – North Carolina Department of Commerce officials say the state is ahead of schedule in paying off its debt to the federal government.

“It’s been a good year in terms of paying off the debt,” says Division of Employment Security assistant secretary Dale Folwell. “We’re almost $100 million ahead of expectation.”

That’s important, he says, because “as long as this debt’s outstanding, employers in North Carolina–or future employers who are thinking about coming here–have to pay a higher federal unemployment tax.”

Following the recessions of 2001 and 2008, North Carolina borrowed heavily from the federal government to pay state unemployment benefits. By January of this year, the resulting debt had reached $2.5 billion—third highest in the nation behind only New York and California.

Governor Pat McCrory made paying off the debt a priority, and researchers estimated that the debt would be reduced to about $2 billion by the end of the year—but Folwell says it’s now even less than that, about $1.87 billion.

The focus on debt reduction came at the expense of other programs, but Folwell says the debt puts North Carolina at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting new businesses or retaining existing ones, so paying it off is important—and it’s equally important to prevent it from happening again.

“Paying off the debt–we can’t stop there,” he says. “We have to build a surplus, so that no one ever gets in this situation again.”

If the latest projections hold, the state will pay off the debt in full by November of 2015.

Orange County Tourism Increases in Wake of Recession

ORANGE COUNTY – The Department of Commerce says tourism reached an all-time high in Orange County last year.

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Executive Director of the Orange County Visitors Bureau, Laurie Paolicelli says the industry generated about 161 million dollars last calendar year.

Paolicelli says the spending trend has continued this year.

“We’ve seen almost double digit increases,” Paolicelli says. “We’re right at about nine percent. This past June we were astounded that we were close to 85 percent occupancy rates in Orange County.”

Paolicelli attributes the increase to businesses reopening their pocket books after a recession hit wallets hard in 2009.

“When we see more business travel, when we see the governor, and the chancellor, and education saying that it’s okay to travel again, all of that has greatly contributed to our success,” Paolicelli says.

Orange County continued to advertise and remained on businesses’ radars when money was tight. Paolicelli says this made it memorable when businesses were ready to spend again.

“The key for us is that when the economy is down, that’s when you really advertise; because you know when the economy comes back, people remember all that you advertised,” Paolicelli says.

Paolicelli says she collaborates with the local hotel industry to focus on bringing in tourists during the work week.

“An area like a college town will generally do well on weekends,” Paolicelli says. “But then you have to fill those properties Sunday through Thursday, and we have over 1500 rooms here. That’s when you want to look at your medical business, and your business travel. That is a big part of any hotel’s budget.”

Paolicelli says she is already thinking about the future. She says she plans to continue reaching out to businesses and organizations. There are several groups on the checklist, but she emphasizes one in particular:

“I think LGBT holds very strong potential for Orange County, and I don’t believe we’re tapping into that,” Paolicelli says. “We have an openly gay mayor in Chapel Hill, and we are not attracting that growing segment nationally to the degree that we could.”

Paolicelli says hotels are filling up without needing to offer discounted prices. That’s one of many reasons spending has reached record highs.

“We had to discount during the recession, but we’re starting to see our rate come back now. Everything from our streets, to our trees, to our paths… it’s a special experience here, and people are willing to pay for it.”

Orange County’s Unemployment Rate Still NC’s Best Despite Increase

RALEIGH – County unemployment rates across the state rose in the first month of the new year, but Orange County remains the state leader.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security announced Friday that Orange County’s seasonally unadjusted rate of 6.6 percent is still the best in the state, almost a full point ahead of Chatham County that came in at number two. However, compared to a year ago, numbers rose slightly.

In January 2012, Orange County saw a jobless rate of 6.2 percent. The biggest jump came between December 2012 and January 2013 in which the county saw a 0.7 percent increase. Since the rates are not adjusted for seasonal employment, an increase of that size is not unlikely.

Graham County’s unemployment rate was the highest in January at 20.4 percent.

All of the state’s 14 metro areas saw increases to open the year as well, but the Durham-Chapel Hill area was the best. This part of the triangle saw a rate of 7.7 percent which matches the rate from a year ago. In second was the Raleigh-Cary area, which saw a rate 0.3 worse than Durham-Chapel Hill.

Click here to see the full report.

North Carolina Unemployment Rate Sees First Increase Since June

RALEIGH – For the first time in seven months, the state unemployment rate saw a slight increase, according to a report from the NC Department of Commerce released Monday morning.

Compared to the final month of 2012, North Carolina’s January jobless rate rose from 9.4 to 9.5 percent, which is 0.1 better than a year ago. The seasonally adjusted number of people with jobs grew by nearly 3,000 people while those without grew by more than 6,000.

The national average saw its first climb in three months after holding steady at 7.8 percent since November. The US jobless rate is 7.9 percent, which is 0.4 better than a year ago.

The county-by-county numbers for January are scheduled to be released on Friday and February’s statewide numbers will be announced next Thursday.

Full Release