Polk unemployment rate hits 10 percent

Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Polk Countys unemployment rate jumped to 10 percent in January, the highest its been in the current recession, according to figures from the N.C. Employment Security Commission (ESC).
The rate was up 1.1 percent from December and 0.2 percent from the previous high in February of last year.
ESC reported 959 people in Polk County who were unemployed and looking for work in January, up 114 from December, but up just one from the previous unemployment high last February.
The rate likely was impacted by the closure of the Woodland Mills textile plant in Polk County, which recently shut down, leaving about 80 people unemployed.
All but one of the 100 counties in North Carolina saw an increase in the jobless rate in January, and most of the increases were substantial. The statewide average unemployment rate rose 0.9 percent to 11.8 percent. North Carolina had 59 counties above the statewide average.
“The current economy continues to influence nearly every major job sector, mainly in manufacturing and construction,” said ESC Chairman Lynn Holmes. “In our local employment offices, we see, as well, the impact on our citizens. The action by Congress to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program and the latest implementation of benefits will assist thousands more as they continue to look for work.”
Over the past year $4.95 billion has been paid in unemployment insurance benefits in North Carolina, including $6.34 million in Polk County.
Both the labor force and the number employed has been declining in Polk County since hitting highs last June of 9,942 and 9,064, respectively.
Polk County had a labor force in January of 9,543, with 8,584 employed.
The number employed in January was the lowest in Polk County since May of 2004 when Polk had 8,538 employed out of labor force of 8,922.
The recent decline reverses the trend of a growing labor force with low unemployment seen over most of the past two decades.
In January of 1990, Polk County had a labor force of 6,709 with 6,525 employed and 184 unemployed (2.7 percent unemployment). Ten years later Polks labor force was 8,431 with 8,089 employed and 342 unemployed (4.1 percent unemployment).
Prior to last year, the average annual unemployment rate ranged from a low of 2.2 percent in 1990 to 5.2 percent in 2002, a year that included the most recent recession. Unemployment rose to 6.7 percent in January of 2002, but was back down to 4.3 percent by September of that year.
The current recession is much worse in some other areas of the state. The unemployment rate in Rutherford County jumped by 1.1 percent in January, reaching a record 18 percent, the third highest in the state. Rutherford County had 5,128 people unemployed in January.
Graham County had the highest rate in January at 19.3 percent, while Orange County was the lowest at 6.9 percent.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox