RALEIGH, N.C. — Need proof the economy is off track? Jobseekers, like George Flythe, say try finding work in Edgecombe County.
Flythe left the military two months ago and joined the ranks of those searching for a new career.
"I've been looking for jobs ever since, and I haven't been lucky," he said. "If anybody should get a job, I should get a job, and I'm not even getting a job."
He's not alone.
New numbers from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission released Friday show that the county has a 9.8 percent unemployment rate – one of the highest in the state.
Terry Anderson, with the Employment Security Commission, said the job market is typically more competitive this time of year with new graduates looking for jobs.
But she says the unemployment rate's increase – up from 8.9 percent – is more likely the result of many of the county's largest employers hiring fewer workers or scaling back on their work forces.
She notes many layoffs are linked directly to rising fuel prices.
"Employers are not making as much money," Anderson said. "They're spending more money, and the next thing they have to do with higher expenses is lay people off."
Although the Employment Security Commission helps train people and place them in jobs, Anderson said it will take more industry moving into the area to turn things around.
Unemployment numbers show Edgecombe is not alone. Ninety-two counties reported an increase in unemployment in May.