Unemployment rate hits record in Raleigh-Cary, Durham-Chapel Hill

Posted July 24, 2009

— Unemployment in Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill increased in June to 9.1 percent and 8.4 percent respectively even though the state’s overall jobless rate decreased last month, the N.C. Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

Both unemployment rates are records for those metro areas, the ESC confirmed to

In May, Raleigh-Cary reported 8.9 percent unemployment, Durham-Chapel Hill 8.1 percent.

“Since 1990, as current records show per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics standards, the highest it's been is in our current year,” ESC spokesperson Larry Parker said of the metro jobless rates.

Before the Raleigh-Durham metro statistic area was divided, Parker said the lowest previous rate for the Triangle area was 6.5 percent in 1975.

Fayetteville and Rocky Mount also reported increases in unemployment at 9.4 percent, up from 9.1, and 14.4 percent, up from 14.2.

Dr. Michael Walden, an economist at N.C. State University, said the new numbers are grim reminders of just how bad the recession is. And the news is likely to get worse.

“The fact that unemployment rates in the Triangle metropolitan areas have hit record (since data have been collected) rates tells us how severe this recession has been,” Walden told

“Even the high-tech Triangle, which many think has the best economic structure for the 21st century, now has an unemployment rate which many thought was not possible.

“Few regions in the country have been able to escape the ‘Great Recession,’ he added. “And, despite some recent encouraging news, the worst isn't over. Unemployment rates in the Triangle will eventually approach 10 percent and in the state, near 13 percent, before starting a slow decline in 2010.”

The dour jobs news came on the same day that Harry Davis, economist for the North Carolina Bankers Association, predicted more hard times are ahead for the state. He predicted unemployment will hit 12 percent “soon” and continue upward from there. North Carolina State University economist Michael Walden has predicted unemployment hitting 13 percent.

“Our state economy is suffering much more than the national economy,” Davis wrote in a new economic forecast. “Our state has a large manufacturing sector which has been severely hurt by the slowdown in world trade. The state unemployment rate, which in June was the eighth highest among the states, started from a higher level in this expansion that the last two. We can expect our unemployment rate to rise to 12 percent soon and continue to rise into next year.”

Raleigh-Cary did add 400 jobs in June, with professional and business service and other service sectors each adding 700 jobs. However, employment numbers were down 15,800 from a year ago, led by huge drops in construction and related services (9,200), manufacturing (3,600) and professional and business services (2,800).

In Durham-Chapel Hill, employment for June fell 1,400, led by a 1,900 loss in government jobs. Services and trade, transportation and utilities sectors each added 600 jobs. Compared to 2008, employment is down 9,500, paced by a drop of 4,200 manufacturing jobs, a loss of 2,700 professional and business services jobs, and the disappearance of 2,500 trade, transportation and utilities positions.

Layoffs at Nortel, Lenovo, Sony Ericsson, Cisco, IBM, NetApp, Fidelity and GlaxoSmithKline have helped drown down tech job rolls. But the losses of construction and manufacturing jobs indicate how reliant the region’s overall economy remains on traditional jobs.

Only one of the state’s major metro areas, Winston-Salem, reported an improvement in employment. Its jobless rate decreased one tenth of a percentage point from May to 10.4 percent.

Statewide in June, unemployment decreased to 11 percent from a record 11.1 percent in May.

The county-by-county rate picture was a mix with 56 counties reporting increases in unemployment while 32 reported drops. Twelve reported no change.

“Outside of a few counties, there wasn’t a lot of change in the rates going up or down,” said ESC Chairman Moses Carey Jr. in a statement “Throughout the state, we’ve had gains in both employment and unemployment. We are seeing some summer hiring, but not at the pace in previous years. At the same time, we are still dealing with some job loss and the ESC continues to be there for those individuals needing work search assistance or help with filing for unemployment benefits.”

Employers did add 23,102 workers to payrolls in June, but unemployment increased by more than 11,000 to 514,877.

Unemployment in Wake County rose to 8.8 percent in June, up two tenths of a percentage point.

Durham County’s rate increased three tenths of a point to 8.4 percent.

Orange County reported a three tenths of a point gain to 7 percent.

Only two counties in central North Carolina reported a drop in rates: Nash, down to 13.2 percent from 13.4 percent and Lee down to 14.9 percent from 14.9 percent. Sampson’s remained the same at 8.4.

The jobless rates in metro areas:

• Asheville — 9.2 percent, up from 9.2 percent no change from May.
• Burlington — 12.4 percent, up from 12.2 percent.
• Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord NC-SC — 12.4 percent, up from 11.9 percent.
• Durham-Chapel Hill — 8.4 percent, up from 8.1 percent.
• Fayetteville — 9.4 percent, up from 9.1 percent.
• Goldsboro — 9.3 percent, up from 9.2 percent.
• Greensboro-High Point — 12.1 percent, up from 11.8 percent.
• Greenville — 11.3 percent, up from 11 percent.
• Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton — 15.4 percent, up from 15.3 percent.
• Jacksonville — 8.7 percent, up from 8.4 percent.
• Raleigh-Cary — 9.1 percent, up from 8.9 percent.
• Rocky Mount — 14.4 percent, up from 14.2 percent.
• Wilmington — 10.3 percent up from 10 percent.
• Winston-Salem — 10.4 percent, down from 10.5 percent.

Other county rates in the WRAL TV viewing area, with May rates in parenthesis:

• Chatham, 8.8 (8.5)
• Cumberland, 9.5 (9.3)
• Edgecombe, 16.6 (15.7)
• Franklin, 10.7 (10.5)
• Granville, 10.9. (10.8)
• Halifax, 14.6 (14.3)
• Harnett, 11.8 (11.6)
• Hoke, 8.9 (8.4)
• Johnston, 10.4 (10.1)
• Moore, 10.2 (10.1)
• Person, 12 (12.1)
• Sampson, 8.4 (8.4)
• Vance, 14.4 (13.5)
• Warren, 13.6 (13.1)
• Wayne, 9.3 (9.2)
• Wilson, 13.8 (13.5)


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  • atozca Jul 24, 2009

    we own a small construction business and we have tapped out, savings, IRA, unemployment, we have earned zero in the past several months. it is only by the grace of God we still have a roof over our head. If we don't start earning money soon, we will lose everything. We are both close to 50 and have spent our life savings trying to prevent getting to where we are now! Our unemployment isn't being counted now by the way because we have drawn all we were allowed. I keep hoping that next interview will be the one, we don't have enough gas to go on many more. This is my reality and I am not alone. Please keep us, your neighbors, our country in your prayers.

  • bill0 Jul 24, 2009

    This is some pretty sloppy reporting by wral. Unemployment ALWAYS goes up in summer because students gobble up many low wage jobs. That is why every reputable news source reports "seasonally adjusted" numbers. Other sources are already reporting that adjusted unemployment is actually DOWN for the triangle and state as a whole. The reporter has this story completely wrong.

  • colliedave Jul 24, 2009

    While I am still not sure his plan will work, it is done and we're not going back so further bashing of the President on this matter is a little over kill?

    No! Obamacare will further cripple the ecomony and turn into a full blown depression. He will force a 6 per cent of our nation's private economy in the public sector with NO improvement of the health care system.

    That's nothing but the difference with being the guy who caused the problem and being the guy charged with solving the problem.

    Blame the Community Redevelopment Act. Blame the premis of free housing. Blame Msrs. Dodd, Frank, and Rangle who blocked any investigation of Freddie and Fannie. Guess who were some of AIG's campaign donations? Add Barry to the above mix and you have your answer. In addition, Charley strong-armed AIG for a 10 mill donation to his "school" at NYU.

  • Professor Jul 24, 2009

    if you folks will work harder to do so!

    With many of us laid off from the jobs we had, how do you propose we do that?

  • time4real Jul 24, 2009

    this is not a problem. everyone just hang in there, we can hit 20% if you folks will work harder to do so!

  • Professor Jul 24, 2009

    We certainly need jobs in NC. Unemployment is going to continue to climb unless we get some jobs here. People do want to work.

  • Surething Jul 24, 2009

    and you have the majority now, lets see what that gets the people of the United States of America. So far it has gotten us nothing but more lies from our president who promised a "transparent" administration.

  • Surething Jul 24, 2009

    "2.5 years of Democratic controlled congress without a 2/3's majority to overturn a veto. Bush still had the power. Just didn't know what to do with it"

    and all the YES and the record number of "present votes"? Care to comment on that? the same policies he now lashes out at? you seriously can even try to spin that in your favor, despite your leader having been able to.

  • Nunya123 Jul 24, 2009

    Oh wait. Can't post facts here. Forget about the lack of a 2/3's majority. My mistake.

  • Nunya123 Jul 24, 2009

    2.5 years of Democratic controlled congress without a 2/3's majority to overturn a veto. Bush still had the power. Just didn't know what to do with it (too many drinks blocking his view).