The jobless rate for Ashe County dropped to 8.7 percent in October 2013, according to the latest figures from the N.C. Division of Employment Security (DES).
Ashe’s unemployment is down from 9.7 percent in August and 12 percent in October of 2012. Ashe is ranked No. 72 in the state for unemployment rates, which is up from a No. 76 ranking in the months of August and September.
“(Ashe County) has a small labor force,” said Larry Parker, spokesperson for the DES. “Any subtle changes in the labor force, especially dealing with the number of people unemployed in the county, could have a significant impact on the rate.”
Parker said while the unemployment rates in Ashe are down, the number of people in the labor force has increased as well, which is common in many of the counties.
With a county labor force of 11,729 people, 1,025 remain unemployed in Ashe, according to the DES report.
Across the state, there were 29,142 regular unemployment insurance initial claims filed. The highest number of claims was filed in Mecklenburg (3,068), Wake (2,252) and Guilford (1,550) counties.
Among the neighboring counties, Alleghany had a 7.4 percent unemployment rate, and Watauga had a 6.3 percent unemployment rate. Wilkes County, had a 8.5 percent unemployment rate.
Unemployment rates declined in all 100 of N.C.’s counties throughout the last 12 months. Ashe County had the third largest rate decrease in the state (3.3 percent), behind Gaston (3.4 percent) and Graham (4 percent) counties.
“In terms of the state overall and all 100 counties being down over the last year, I can say that while we’ve seen overall a drop in labor force, we’ve seen an increase in jobs,” Parker said. “Folks go in and out of the labor force for a lot of different reasons. You’re going to have some fluctuation with that from time to time.”
Between September and October, unemployment rates declined in 57 counties, including Ashe. The rate remained the same in 14 counties and increased in 29 others.
Scotland County had the highest rate in the state (14.2 percent) and Edgecombe County had a rate of 12.2 percent. Two counties had below 5 percent unemployment, they were: Currituck (4.5 percent) and Orange (4.9 percent) counties.
All 14 metropolitian statistical areas, saw a decrease in unemployment over the year. The Boone and North Wilkesboro Micropolitian Statistical areas did as well.
“It is a good sign that all of the rates are down,” Parker said. “As the state continues to add jobs, hopefully that trend of lowering unemployment rates will continue.”
Statewide, North Carolina had an unemployment rate of 8 percent. N.C. was ranked No. 39 in the nation in terms of unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The combined amount of unemployment rates paid in the state for all programs from Nov. 2012 through Oct. 2013 totaled $1,969,146,391.
The federal unemployment rate had risen 0.1 percent to 7.3 percent, according to the BLS.