Local News

Unemployment Rate Drops In Most N.C. Counties

Posted October 29, 2004

— North Carolina's latest unemployment numbers are out and the news is good. Unemployment dropped in 89 of the state's 100 counties in September. While that is a sign of improvement, more than 180,000 North Carolinians are still looking for work.

Looking for work is a full-time job for Clint Sanderson, of Raleigh. After seven months of searching, there is still no offer.

"I lost my job on March 1. Forty-three of us were laid off that day," he said.

The computer system administrator wants to stay in information technology, but the clock is ticking.

"You try not to take it personally -- 'OK, it's not me,' but that starts to hit sometimes," Sanderson said.

Experts said Sanderson is not alone. They said so many Triangle techies were laid off in the last several years that the market is overflowing with qualified people.

The latest numbers for Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill show that unemployment is dropping in the Triangle. Last month, local unemployment fell from 3.4 percent to 3.0 percent.

Jim Murphy, of Matrix Resources, an IT head-hunting company, said his business is up 50 percent from last year.

"We're probably the first ones to feel it when it goes down, and the first one to feel it when it starts to go back up," he said.

North Carolina State economist Mike Walden is cautiously optimistic, warning the unemployment numbers are somewhat misleading.

"The number of jobs in the state and Triangle actually declined from August to September," he said.

Overall, North Carolina's unemployment rate stands at 4.4 percent. For the seventh-straight month, Vance County had the highest rate, now at 10.7 percent.

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