Polk unemployment jumps to 5.4 percent

Published 1:29 pm Thursday, December 4, 2008

Polk County&squo;s unemployment rate jumped 0.4 percent in October, reaching the highest point in more than six years.

The N.C. Employment Security Commission reported this week that Polk County&squo;s jobless rate was 5.4 percent in October.

According to the state, Polk County had a labor force during the month of 9,819 with 9,288 employed and 531 unemployed.

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The last time the unemployment rate was this high in Polk County was April of 2002.

Polk&squo;s unemployment rate actually spiked to 6.7 percent in January of 2002 during the country&squo;s last recession.

It fell steadily and remained relatively low over the past several years, hitting a low of 3.1 percent last March.

The county&squo;s unemployment rate was as low as 3.7 percent in April of this year before it began to rise.

Polk&squo;s unemployment rate remains below the state average of 6.7 percent in October, up from 6.6 percent in September.

In October 55 counties were at or below the state average. Buncombe County was at 5.1 percent, Henderson County at 5.3 percent, Mecklenburg County at 6.7 percent and Rutherford County at 9.4 percent.

The lowest jobless rate in the state in October was in Orange and Watauga counties at 4.1 percent, while Scotland and Edgecombe counties had the highest rate at 11.6 percent.

Employment Security Commission Harry E. Payne Jr. noted that the state figures showed an increase in the state&squo;s labor force in October.

&dquo;The labor force increased in October by 21,820 workers,&dquo; said Payne. &dquo;It&squo;s always positive when we see workers enter the labor force and find work. While the job market is tight right now, diligent efforts still can pay off when it comes to searching for work.&dquo;