MEDIA RELEASE: Unemployment declines in 99 of 100 North Carolina counties

But more than half of the counties in the state continue to experience above-average unemployment

RALEIGH (May 28, 2010) - During April, unemployment rates declined in 99 of the 100 counties in North Carolina. But, an economic analyst noted, more than half of the counties in the state continue to have rates above the state's overall 10 percent rate.

"The new numbers highlight how certain areas of the state have been devastated by the loss of traditional industries," said Alexandra Forter Sirota, a policy analyst with NC Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center. "Long-term unemployment is still an epidemic problem in North Carolina."

Hickory/Lenoir/Morganton and Rocky Mount metro areas had the highest unemployment rates at 13.3 and 13.0 respectively.  In the case of Hickory, the loss to manufacturing and construction jobs has driven these high numbers.

Over the month increases in Charlotte/Gastonia/Rock Hill of 6,100 jobs has gone some way to replacing the 7,000 jobs that have been lost in the past year in that metro area.

Both the highs and lows point to the key role that community assets can play in stabilizing economies in tough economic times, said Sirota. Communities that started out at the beginning of the recession with high poverty rates and few employment opportunities have experienced some of the highest unemployment rates and the slowest job creation."

"Ensuring that communities disproportionately impacted by the recession can benefit from policies that promote job creation and support working families is essential to building long-term stability," she said.

The slow nature of the economic recovery has created not just high unemployment rates but record long-term unemployment.  In North Carolina, the median length of unemployment was 16.5 weeks in 2009 up from just 7 weeks at the beginning of the recession.

"As workers experience longer spells of unemployment, it is essential that the extension of unemployment insurance benefits is temporarily extended by Congress," said Sirota. "These benefits allow unemployed workers to continue to shop in their local communities providing a necessary boost to the private sector."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, 919.861.1468, alexandra@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, 503.551.3615, jeff@ncjustice.org.

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