Polk sees biggest improvement in employment so far during recession

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Polk County saw in April its largest employment gains in the past two years, according to figures from the N.C. Employment Security Commission.

The unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent in March to 8.4 percent in April and the number of unemployed Polk County residents fell from 912 to 807.

While the number of unemployed remains more than double what it was two years ago, the April figures give further indication that the economy is improving and the worst for unemployment may be over.

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Since February, the countys unemployment rate has fallen 1.8 percent and the number of unemployed is down 178. Even better, the number of employed Polk County residents is up 202, reflecting an expanding workforce in the past two months.

According to state figures, Polk County had 8,829 people employed in April, the most since last November, when the unemployment rate was at 8.5 percent.

The rate rose each month over the past winter, reaching a recent high of 10.2 percent in February&bsp; before dropping 0.8 percent in March.

The improvement in Polk County mirrors a trend that brought lower unemployment rates to 99 of 100 North Carolina counties in April.

The statewide average rate fell from 10.9 percent in March to 10 percent in April. The state had in April 455,013 people who were unemployed and looking for work, down 42,446 from March.

The positive news in the April county data is that there has been an increase in the number of workers employed throughout the state, said Employment Security Commission chairman Lynn R. Holmes. At the same time, the news is tempered by the fact that more than half of the counties still have unemployment rates over the unadjusted rate of 10 percent. We continue to provide a variety of services in our 89 offices statewide to assist those seeking work.

Currituck County had the lowest rate in the state in April at 5.8 percent, while the highest rate was in Scotland County at 15.8 percent.

Rutherford County saw significant improvement with a 1.3 percent decline in the unemployment rate, but it still had the second highest rate in the state at 15.2 percent. Henderson County was at 8.4 percent and Buncome County at 8.2 percent.

In South Carolina, employment conditions also brightened&bsp; considerably in April.

The states average rate fell for the third straight month. It was down 0.6 percent from March to 11.6 percent. The number of unemployed was down 14,648.

Both Spartanburg and Greenville counties saw even greater improvement. The unemployment rate fell 1.4 percent in Spartanburg County to 10.8 percent, and it fell 1.2 percent in Greenville County to 9 percent.

We are encouraged by this positive news and remain focused on putting South Carolinians back to work, says John Finan, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.