Meanwhile unemployment rates in the Unifour area, including Catawba, Alexander, Burke and Caldwell counties are 7 percent, up from 6.3 in April. It’s the second highest unemployment rate of the 14 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) in North Carolina, exceeded by Rocky Mount with an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.
The N.C. unemployment rate also rose in May from 5.1 percent in April to 5.8 percent.
However, (Catawba County employment security commission manager, Allan) Mackie said one month does not make a trend and June will be a better indicator as to how the job market will change throughout the rest of the year. Those figures will be released on July 18.
2) From the Observer News Enterprise (7/25/2008) – Catawba County reached the highest unemployment rate the county has seen in three years, according to a report released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission on Friday.
The county unemployment rate rose from 6.7 percent in May to 7.2 percent in June. It’s the highest its been since the 7.1 percent rate in February 2005, said Allan Mackie, manager of the ESC office in Catawba County.
The unemployment rate for July is likely to be higher, according to Mackie, who said January and July tend to be the peak months for unemployment due to seasonal fluctuations in workload and production schedules. He said these months are usually slower and often result in companies having a number of temporary layoffs until production picks up again. Generally, these layoffs are only for a week or two, but the change usually inflates the unemployment rate, Mackie said.
3) From the News-Topic, Lenoir, N.C. (8/22/2008) – Nathan Key -- 9.5 Percent: County Jobless Rate
Alexander, Burke and Catawba also saw increased unemployment in July. Alexander's rate rose from 6.9 to 8.6 percent, with Burke's moving from 7.8 to 8.7. Catawba jumped from 7.2 in June to 8.1 for July.
North Carolina's unemployment rate also soared in July, rising to 6.6 percent, up greatly from the 5.9 posted in June. The rate has not seen that level since August 2003 and reflects the national employment trend, which also is on the rise at 5.7 percent. The national average is up from 5.5 percent in June.
Manufacturing jobs continue to take a hit in North Carolina. In the last year, that sector of the work force has seen its employment fall by 3 percent. Since 2001, nearly 29 percent (207,000) of the manufacturing jobs in the state have been eliminated.
The Hounds View: We have seen unemployment, in Catawba County rise 2.2% in a period of 4 months. We aren’t far from having 10% unemployment according to these trends. What is the plan? Where is the Leadership?
Do not be blaming this on the national economy. Our unemployment rate is 8.1%, the state level is 6.8%, and the national level is 6.1%. HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!
Looking back to data beginning in January 1990 and ending with the latest figures available, we see that from August 1992 until April 2001, that we had a better unemployment level than the state in 93 out of 105 of those months. During a parallel period from March of 1992 to January 2001, Catawba County had a better unemployment rate than the federal government in 105 out of 107 months.
Since that period of success ended, we have disastrously not had one single month where we have had a better unemployment rate than the state or federal government. 54 of the succeeding 86 months have seen Catawba County at least 1% worse than the state’s unemployment rate. Comparing to the Federal rate, we also have been at least 1% worse in 60 out of those 86 months.
The worst part is that the trends are not improving. Catawba County is currently 2.4% worse than the Federal unemployment rate. The best we have done this year is to get to within .9% of the federal rate and .5% of the state rate. That was back in April and since then we have headed precipitously in the wrong direction.
It is a little over 13 months until the next local election. Our Mayor has had almost 7 years to make some progress. Every year he has told us that we are on the right track to turn this thing around. Whether fair or unfair, his tenure has coincided with the pervasive malaise that has settled into the area.
Let’s be honest, we have never had a rosy economic picture since he has been in office. Whether fair or not, I believe that Mayor Wright should get credit when times are good and blame when they are bad. I think that he should be given every tool at his disposal to get things going in the next year, but if we don’t see a tangible change from this negative economic direction, then I think it will be time to get some new blood in our city’s executive office.
It is time for someone to step forward with a meaningful platform, a platform of leadership and progress. There has been way too much micro-management in areas of social interest, while our economy has unbelievably taken a back seat in importance. This area has so much to offer, but sadly we don’t have the glue, which is an industrial base, needed so that Hickory can flourish.
We cannot turn this area into a retirement village and expect our best and brightest young people to want to return. The Elderly (no matter how much money they have in the bank) have to live on fixed incomes, because they are more susceptible to needing catastrophic care at some point. If they become a disproportionate part of our population, then our tax base will get even worse than it already is. There will be little real increase in our city’s revenues and expenses will become much greater.
We should have one singular focus in our city. We need a Blue Ribbon commission of our area's top businessmen, led by our Mayor, willing to work to bring Fortune 500 type companies here; companies that have a bright future over the next 20 to 50 years. Some real areas of interest should be Human, Animal, and Plant Biotech; Alternative Energy and Transportation; Environmental Science; and we should still play a role in the area of furniture design and manufacturing.
I truly believe that when the first domino falls, as far as industrial facilitation and production go, that that will truly be when we turn the corner and start climbing instead of this endless tumble.
+++Statistical spreadsheet of our Unemployment picture is linked below and will be stored in Microsoft Excel format at The Hickory Hound Google Group.+++