Business

Unemployment drops to 8 percent in Triangle

Posted August 27, 2010 10:18 a.m. EDT
Updated August 27, 2010 6:38 p.m. EDT

— Unemployment in the Triangle dropped slightly in July to 8 percent from 8.2 percent in June, the state Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

Across the state, jobless rates fell in 86 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Still, more than half of the counties have rates at or above 10 percent.

The statewide unemployment rate is 9.9 percent.

The ESC data shows 813,063 people were working in the Triangle in July, while 70,963 were out of work and seeking employment.

As some companies continue to cut operations or shut down altogether, those that are hiring are doing so in small numbers.

IEM, an emergency management consulting firm, plans to add 50 people over the next year following its move from Baton Rouge, La., to Research Triangle Park. Most IEM employees will transfer from Louisiana, but general counsel Greg Latham said that would still boost the Triangle's economy.

"We're buying houses. We're renting houses. We're buying cars. We're paying for day care," Latham said.

Mike Walden, an economist with North Carolina State University, said the economic recovery will be slow and frustrating.

"There's no question the Triangle felt the impact of the recession. We lost about 30,000 jobs in this market," Walden said.

He predicted that the Triangle region would recover within two to three years, but it could take as long as five years for North Carolina to rebound from the recession.

Despite slow job growth and an expected record number of foreclosures in North Carolina this year, some segments of the economy are showing signs of life.

"There is a strong demand for both business and leisure travel," said Andrew Sawyer, a spokesman for Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Delta Airlines announced this week that it would add 14 flights to its daily schedule at RDU, including service to five new cities.

"Pretty much every seat leaving the airport that is available is going to be full," Sawyer said. "We think Delta is recognizing that, as well as the strength of the region economically, and is deciding to invest here."

Across North Carolina, unemployment rates in the metropolitan statistical areas fell:

• Asheville — 8 percent, down from 8.5 percent in June.
• Burlington — 10.8 percent, down from 11.2 percent.
• Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC — 11.2 percent, down from 11.4 percent.
• Durham-Chapel Hill — 7.3 percent, down from 7.6 percent.
• Fayetteville — 9 percent, down from 9.1 percent.
• Goldsboro — 8.4 percent, down from 8.8 percent.
• Greensboro-High Point — 10.6 percent, down from 10.9 percent.
• Greenville — 9.9 percent, down from 10.1 percent.
• Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton — 12.7 percent, down from 13.1 percent.
• Jacksonville — 8 percent, down from 8.1 percent
• Raleigh-Cary — 8.2 percent, down from 8.5 percent.
• Rocky Mount — 12.8 percent, down from 13.2 percent..
• Wilmington — 9.5 percent, down from 9.8 percent.
• Winston-Salem — 9.4 percent, down from 9.7 percent.