MEDIA RELEASE: Nearly three-fourths of North Carolina counties see double-digit unemployment

Greenville, Hickory, Rocky Mount hit especially hard

RALEIGH (June 26, 2009) -- The vast majority of North Carolina's counties -- 82 of 100 -- saw an increase in unemployment during May, according to data released this morning by the Employment Security Commission.

From April to May, five additional counties saw double-digit unemployment, bringing the total number to 72 of North Carolina's 100 counties.

"No county in North Carolina is immune to the labor market crisis," said Elaine Mejia, director of the NC Budget & Tax Center. "Families across the state are hurting, and the new numbers show that economic recovery isn't right around the corner."

Greenville saw the highest month-to-month increase in joblessness, leaping from 10.1 percent to 11 percent unemployment. The highest unemployment rates in North Carolina were found in Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, followed by Rocky Mount.

But metropolitan areas across the state also struggled with a weak labor market in May. Every single metropolitan area in North Carolina saw rising unemployment rates.

"There is no end in sight for North Carolina's struggling working families," said Mejia. "Families and communities across the state will confront the hardships associated with a weak labor market well into the foreseeable future."

Significantly, loss of government jobs began to play a role in growing unemployment. With cuts in state and local spending, more government positions are frozen or eliminated, contributing to the rise in joblessness.

"As more and more working families are thrown out of work, public investment is absolutely necessary," said Mejia. "Government programs don't just stimulate the economy, they provide essential support for people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves jobless."

It's particularly important, Mejia, said, for people to have access to the NC Health Choice program, which provides health insurance for the children of working families who do not have health insurance through their employer. Another way the state can help, she said, is by keeping doors to community colleges open for workers who seek retraining after being thrown out of work.

For More Information, Contact: Elaine Mejia, 919.856.2176; Jeff Shaw, Communications Director, 503.551.3615 (mobile).