Local News

Wake County Known For Low Unemployment Rate

Posted February 10, 2006

— After 14 1/2 half years, Monica Smith is losing her job. Her boss is retiring and closing her Garner Hallmark store. Once Smith started looking for a new job, it didn't take anytime to find one.

"No more than two weeks, says Smith.

No one who worked at the store will be unemployed. Before the doors close for good, every worker has found a new job. Not one of them will need to file for unemployment.

With an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, not many people in Wake County do. Over the last 25 years, the number of jobs in the county has increased by more than 230,000. During the same period of time, Wake has been well below the state and national unemployment rate average.

Part of the reason is a stable workforce that comes with state government and universities. During a visit to the Triangle on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez said the regions ability to attract capital and business is what makes us stand out.

"That's exactly what we want to do on a national level. Create the environment so small businesses and entrepreneurs can do what they do best," said Gutierrez.

There can be a downside to having so many people working.

"Employers are having to work hard to find employees," says N.C. State economist Mike Walden.

Smith, however, is thankful she didn't have to work hard to land a new job.

"Jobs are available if you really want to work," she said.

With such a low unemployment rate, some people may think Wake County is recession-proof. But economists say that's not the case. When the tech bubble burst in the early 2000's, Wake County's unemployment rate did spike several points to 5.6 percent. Experts said while that was a number still envied by other communities, it does show that the county can be vulnerable.

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