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Unemployment surges to record in Wake, Durham

Posted March 19, 2010

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— Unemployment surged in January to record levels in Wake and Durham counties, and also climbed to a near record in Orange County.

According to data released Friday from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, the jobless rate in Wake County climbed to 9.2 percent, up 0.8 percent from December.

Statewide unemployment hit a record 11.1 percent in January. Records are based on employment data dating to 1976.

The Employment Security Commission Web site. ESC: Firms adapt, operate with fewer workers

With unemployment topping 41,000 people, Wake County topped the record of 8.8 percent set in June and July 2009.

"Do I cry? Yeah, some days I cry. It helps release the pressure," said Yolanda Johnson, who has been looking for two years for a job in the health care industry.

"It's put a toll on me emotionally," said Nydia Nieves, who has spent more than a year looking for a job as an administrative assistant. "I need a job. I want a job. I really want to work."

In Durham, the jobless rate jumped 0.7 percent, to 8.6 percent. The previous record was 8.4 percent, reached last June and July.

More than 12,000 Durham County residents were out of work in January and receiving unemployment benefits.

Orange County, which normally has one of the state’s lowest jobless rates, didn’t escape the surge in jobless claims. Its unemployment number grew to more than 4,700, and the jobless rate increased 0.7 percent, to 6.9 percent.

The record high for Orange County was 7.1 percent, set last July.

Triangle-wide unemployment climbed to 9.3 percent, a new record, from 8.5 percent in December.

ESC Deputy Chairman David Clegg said businesses are reorganizing operations to continue operating with fewer employees.

Heavy equipment firm Caterpillar Inc., for example, announced this week that it would lay off 121 people at its Clayton plant in the coming months.

"You're going to see that a lot more. You're going to see large employers restructuring, creating that new blueprint," Clegg said.

The Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill metro areas also reached record unemployment levels, at 9.5 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.

However, North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden pointed out that the unemployment picture did show some improvement when seasonal factors, such as temporary holiday season jobs, are considered.

“The job market picture in the Triangle in January was better than the headline numbers show,” Walden said. “Although the jobless rate rose, employers added 2,700 jobs (seasonally adjusted) between December and January.

“This is consistent with the seasonally adjusted job gains registered for the state,” he said. “The Triangle accounted for a third of the total state net job gains during the period.”

Walden said he also believes that the unemployment rate could climb higher.

“I think we will see continued modest improvement in the job picture in the months ahead,” he said. “However, the unemployment rate may still rise as ‘discouraged workers’ – folks without a job but who have stopped actively looking for a job and therefore aren't officially counted as unemployed – come back into the job hunt and are then counted as unemployed.”

Across the state, the ESC reported unemployment increased in all major metropolitan areas.

• Asheville – 10.1 percent, up from 8.8 percent in December

• Burlington – 13.2 percent, up from 12.1 percent

• Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill – 12.8 percent, up from 12.1 percent

• Durham-Chapel Hill – 8.4 percent, up from 7.7 percent

• Fayetteville – 9.8 percent, up from 9.3 percent

• Goldsboro – 9.9 percent, up from 9.2 percent

• Greensboro-High Point – 12.3 percent, up from 11.4 percent

• Greenville – 10.8 percent, up from 10.1 percent

• Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton – 15.8 percent, up from 14.8 percent

• Jacksonville – 8.7 percent, up from 8.2 percent

• Raleigh-Cary – 9.5 percent, up from 8.7 percent

• Rocky Mount – 14.7 percent, up from 13.9 percent.

• Wilmington – 11.6 percent, up from 10.6 percent

• Winston-Salem – 11 percent, up from 10 percent

In Raleigh-Cary, employment in professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities both declined by 2,100 jobs. Overall, non-seasonally adjusted employment fell by 9,400, or 1.9 percent, from December.

In Durham-Chapel Hill, government jobs fell by 1,300 as part of a non-seasonally adjusted drop of 4,300 jobs.

Clegg said federal benefits have kicked in that allow workers to receive unemployment compensation for an extra six weeks.

162 Comments

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  • TheAdmiral Mar 19, 2010

    Welp, I put the house on the market - told the credit card companies to go pound salt, sold nearly everything but the dog - and have purchased a nice cardboard box to fit conveniently under a bridge.

    I guess that is CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

  • rargos Mar 19, 2010

    Wait ... I thought the recovery was underway ... that's what the media keeps telling me.

    Time for another "stimulus package"

  • Eduardo1 Mar 19, 2010

    coffeeecup in particular ..your spewing proves that there should be limits of who should be allowed on GOLO and the moderators cleaning up what "people" such as yourself should be allowed to publish
    True, we had GWB in for 8 years, true that we had a Democrat controlled Congress for his last 2 years. True that we are in trouble, including such powerful Senators as: Obama, Clinton, Biden, etc. So bottom line it is a true 2 party mess, that is now being left up to the INDEPENDENTS to clean up this mess, but in 2010 & 2012. And we will do our best to do so

  • jajajeeunit Mar 19, 2010

    "Most details have been reported by the media even for those who choose not to read it in its entirety, so what's not transparent about that?"

    Can you explain to me how "deem and pass" is transparent government, when the names will not be attached to their votes for the Health Care bill? Let's not cherry pick, or else it will become a field day for me.

  • hardwork919 Mar 19, 2010

    mep, the bill is online for all to peruse and has been for quite some time and that's not transparency? Most details have been reported by the media even for those who choose not to read it in its entirety, so what's not transparent about that? It wouldn't be transparent, if it was passed on Sunday and signed into law but no one outside of the administration knew what had happened. Is that the case? Simply, no.

  • hardwork919 Mar 19, 2010

    "This screams of insecurity in your beliefs. Who told you blindly support Obama? You need another GOLO poster to come and get your back on the stimulus bill, to try and lie to me that it is an investment? Come on man, you are hopefully better than that. Much better than that. Start thinking for yourself, look at all the angles, and decide for yourself, on all issues. You'll be a better man for it, I guarantee it." jajajeeunit

    Are you still on this investment kick? What is your deal? How about you scroll up and read the responses by DIVERDOWN and I and rehash what was said. Until you can do that, how about you stop talking? Blindly supporting Obama? I was his biggest critic when the stimulus bill passed so how is that for support? Do I realize that it still helped people even if it didn't help me, yes. Again, read what was said and then address me.

  • hardwork919 Mar 19, 2010

    Me referencing it as an investment was in response to DIVERDOWN calling it an investment... I know what I said because I was there when I said it... now if you can READ, you will see that I clearly stated that. You lose. Thanks for playing.

  • prn13norm Mar 19, 2010

    Ain't it grand to live in Obamaland!

  • jajajeeunit Mar 19, 2010

    "How about next time you wait until someone's talking to you before entering the conversation between two other people? "

    This screams of insecurity in your beliefs. Who told you blindly support Obama? You need another GOLO poster to come and get your back on the stimulus bill, to try and lie to me that it is an investment?

    Come on man, you are hopefully better than that. Much better than that. Start thinking for yourself, look at all the angles, and decide for yourself, on all issues. You'll be a better man for it, I guarantee it.

  • jajajeeunit Mar 19, 2010

    "I wasn't the one who called it an investment. "

    Go back a re-read your post above mine. You lie as bad as Joe Biden.

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