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Polk unemployment rate slightly up in December

Polk Countys unemployment rate followed a statewide trend of rising rates in December, increasing 0.2 percent to 8.9 percent.
Polk matched the increase in the statewide average jobless rate, which rose from 10.7 to 10.9 percent in December. Only 14 of 100 counties in the state did not see an increase in the unemployment rate in December.
Polk County had 845 people unemployed and looking for work in December, according to the N.C. Employment Security Commission. That figure is up 18 from November, but down 113 from a high for the year of 958 unemployed in February 2009.
In December, Polk County had a labor force of 9,452 with 8,607 employed. State figures show the countys labor force declined by 410 from a high for the year of 9,942 in June.
Polk Countys jobless rate declined sharply in August, falling from 8.9 to 8.2 percent, but jumped back up to 8.8 percent in October and has remained around that level.
The situation is much worse in neighboring Rutherford County, where the jobless rate spiked again in December, reaching 16.9 percent, the highest its been all year. The state reported 4,857 people unemployed and looking for work in Rutherford County in December.
Still, Rutherford County did not have the highest rate in the state for the month. That distinction went to Graham County at 17.6 percent. Orange County had the lowest rate at 6.2 percent.
“This recession continues to affect North Carolinas economy,” said ESC Chairman Moses Carey Jr. “Virtually every major job sector has been impacted. The ESC continues to work hard in providing many services to the citizens of North Carolina.
“Whether it be job search assistance or the issuing of unemployment benefits to those who are eligible, the ESC remains committed to the citizens of our state.”
In South Carolina, the statewide rate rose 0.3 percent in November to a record high of 12.6 percent. Rates ranged from 8.7 percent in Lexington County to 23.6 percent in Allendale County.
Spartanburg Countys unemployment rose 0.3 percent to 12.7 percent, while Greenville Countys rate 0.1 percent to 10.5 percent.
“Decembers labor force levels were the lowest since September, 2008, and we have seen unemployment reach record levels in South Carolina,” said Sam Foster, Interim Executive Director of the S.C. Employment Security Commission. “A net increase in private sector job creation is our No. 1 public policy problem, and a net increase in private job creation will be pivotal in reversing the trend in the states unemployment rate.”