Polk unemployment dips below 8 percent

Published 12:52 am Thursday, September 2, 2010

For the first time in more than 18 months, the Polk County unemployment rate is below 8 percent.

The jobless rate fell 0.4 percent to 7.7 percent in July, according to the latest figures from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission (ESC).

The state showed a labor force in the county of 9,528 in July with 8,790 employed and 738 unemployed.

The number of unemployed Polk residents was down 247 from a high of 985 in February when Polk County had a jobless rate of 10.2 percent.

The last time Polks unemployment rate was below 8 percent was in December of 2008 when it was at 6.9 percent.

Polk County began 2008 with an unemployment rate of just 4.2 percent with 394 unemployed. By January of 2009 the rate had spiked to 8.9 percent with 874 unemployed.

The rate hovered around 9 percent for most of last year before jumping from 8.8 percent last December to 10.1 percent this January. After peaking in February, the rate has steadily declined, mirroring the same trend in the rest of the state.

Unemployment rates declined in 86 of North Carolinas 100 counties in July. The statewide average rate was 9.9 percent, down 0.3 percent from June.

Despite the improvement, ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holes says employment conditions remain weak in many areas of the state.

Unemployment rates dropped in the majority of the states 100 counties in July, said Holes. However, over half of our counties had unemployment rates over 10 percent.

Local communities continue to be challenged by the current economic conditions. Our staff across the state continues to provide assistance to those seeking unemployment benefits and those seeking employment opportunities.

Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate in North Carolina in July at 16.2 percent, while Currituck County had the lowest at 4.5 percent.

Rocky Mount had the highest rate among metropolitan areas in the state at 12.8 percent. Asheville and Jacksonville were tied for the lowest rate at 8 percent.

In South Carolina, the unemployed rate rose 0.1 percent in July to 10.8 percent. Spartanburg Countys jobless rate rose from 11.5 percent in June to 11.8 percent in July, while the rate dropped in Greenville County from 9.6 to 9.5 percent.

The highest rate in the state was 19.9 percent in Marion County. The lowest was 8.2 percent in Lexington County.

Several sectors of the economy, such as retail trade and construction, are moving in a lateral motion, says John L. Finan, Executive Director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. This continues to affect consumer sentiment which directly affects demand for products and services. As the states economy strives to rebound, we remain committed to assisting job seekers in finding employment.