NC employers, job seekers uneasy over economy

The sputtering U.S. economy nationwide has many people on edge, and some employers are holding off on hiring new workers.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The sputtering U.S. economy nationwide has many people on edge, and some employers are holding off on hiring new workers.

Employers added only 69,000 jobs nationwide in May, the fewest in a year and not even close to what economists expected. For the first time since last June, the U.S. unemployment rate rose, to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent.

"That's a disappointing number. That's a very low number," North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden said of the job gains. "Earlier in the year, we were up to 200,000 a month, and really, if we were going full throttle, we'd be up to 400,000 a month."

The job numbers, released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor, also deepened the pessimism of investors, who even before the report was released were worried about a debt crisis in Europe with no sign of solution and signs of a slowdown in the powerhouse economy of China.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 275 points, its worst day of the year, and for the first time was down for 2012. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is almost 10 percent below its 2012 high, the traditional definition of a market correction.

Steven Halaszi, who opened Benelux Café in the City Market area of downtown Raleigh a little more than a year and a half ago, said he is cautious about moving forward in what he calls a delicate economy.

"As the owner, I'm here quite a bit, keeping the labor (costs) as low as possible," Halaszi said.

Job-seekers at a bilingual job fair in Raleigh said they can sense the trepidation among employers.

"You're looking online, (and there are) not as many opportunities as there were before," Samuel White Jr. said. "Then there are a lot of graduate students like me or students graduating from school or other people looking for work."

"I've been looking for a better opportunity for almost one year. I was applying for different positions, but this is tough times," Ivonne Crane said.

North Carolina mirrors the national outlook of slow growth, Walden said, adding that he is cautiously optimistic that the state will rebound in the long run because people are moving here in record numbers.

Halaszi said he will be hiring later this summer, when Benelux Café opens a second location inside the YMCA on Hillsborough Street.

"We feel the economy is getting better, and we see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," he said.


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