James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
November 5, 2012
Ashe County joins 97 other counties in North Carolina whose unemployment rate has decreased in the last month.
The latest release from the N.C. Department of Commerce says Ashe County’s unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in September 2012. This is down by .7 percent from August’s unemployment rate of 10.9 percent.
Ashe County’s unemployment rate in September 2011 was 11 percent, indicating Ashe County’s unemployment rate has decreased .8 percent since last year.
“Ashe County has shown a fairly static decrease in its unemployment rate. Dropping .8 percent over the past year (the unemployment rate) is a good sign of steady growth,” said Larry Parker, the public information officer of the Employment Security Commission in Raleigh.
According to the report, Ashe County, along with its neighbors, have all shown uniform drops in unemployment rates between .6 and 1.2 percent. Of the four N.C. counties in close proximity to Ashe, the unemployment rate is no better than 7.3 percent and no worse than 10.2 percent.
Of Ashe County’s closest neighbors, Watauga County’s rate has dropped from 8.3 percent in August to 7.3 percent in September and Wilkes County’s unemployment rate dropped from 11 percent in August to 10.2 percent in September.
A more dramatic drop was reported for Alleghany County’s unemployment rate, which dropped from 10.1 percent in August to 8.9 percent in September. In September 2011, Alleghany County reported an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, meaning Alleghany County’s rate has fallen by 2.6 percent over the past year.
Avery County’s unemployment rate also decreased in the last month from 10.5 percent in August to 9.9 percent in September.
Excluding Watauga County’s rate, these rates are slightly higher that North Carolina’s average unemployment rate of 8.9 percent. N.C.’s lowest unemployment rate comes from Currituck County with 5.1 percent; its highest unemployment rate comes from Scotland County with a 16.1 percent rate.
Almost every county in North Carolina has made strides forward in the past month. Of N.C.’s 100 counties, 97 counties’ unemployment rates are lower than last month’s rates, only one county has a higher rate than last month, and two counties have remained the same.
According to Parker, the number of unemployed in Ashe County has decreased by 30 people since August, while the rate of employed increased by 500.
Parker also said Ashe County’s labor force could fluctuate greatly from month to month because of short-term seasonal changes.
According to Parker, government employment increased in September. Parker said this is due to schools returning from summer break, which means more positions have been filled in education.
Parker also said these numbers could reflect increased employment for one of Ashe County’s highest-grossing industries, Christmas tree farming. Ashe County’s unemployment rate could continue to improve as the holiday season draws near and there is an increased demand for workers, said Parker.
Ashe County’s unemployment rate could also be impacted by layoffs from United Chemi-Con and by new employers like Tractor Supply Co. and Mo’s Boots.