Durham County unemployment down in April, but still above historic averages

May. 30, 2013 @ 11:34 AM

Durham County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in April, the lowest the rate has been in the county since January 2009. But one expert said the rate is above historic averages.
That’s according to data from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Analysis Division that was seasonally adjusted by the East Carolina University College of Business Bureau of Business Research.
“Durham and other counties in the Triangle have some of the lowest rates in North Carolina,” said James W. Kleckley, the director of ECU’s Bureau of Business Research, in an email. “Still, the April rates are much higher than were found prior to the last recession.”
Unemployment in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area, which includes Durham as well as Orange, Chatham and Person counties, was 6.7 percent in the month, the lowest of any metro area in the state, according to the seasonally adjusted rate. The rate was unchanged from March, but was down from a rate of 7.3 percent seen in April of last year.
Orange County’s seasonally adjusted rate in April, at 5.7 percent, was the lowest in the state, and Chatham’s rate, at 6 percent, was the second lowest. Person County’s was 9.4 percent in the month.
Durham County’s rate in April was the eighth lowest on the list. It was down from a rate of 7 percent in March, and from a rate of 7.6 percent seen in April of last year.
However, the county’s rate was still above the county’s average unemployment rate in the 1990s of 3 percent, according to Kleckley, and above the average of 4.7 percent seen in the county between 2000 and 2008.
Kleckley called for greater economic growth at the national level.
“I personally feel that there remains too much uncertainly for businesses and consumers,” he said in the email. “Interest rates remain low, but businesses continue to provide little investment stimulus and individuals are hesitant to make big purchases…”
Ted Conner, vice president of economic development and community sustainability for the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, said he believes the county is seeing “good, gradual increases in unemployment” as people are gaining confidence in the economy, and alongside an uptick in construction.
“It’s just showing the general rebound of the economy,” he said.
Conner added that chamber officials are seeing a lot of different companies adding small numbers of workers to help improve the economy.
“You can’t put your finger on any one entity that’s hiring,” he said.
According to a survey of jobs on the payroll of a number of businesses in the state, the metro area saw an increase of 1,500 jobs compared to March, and 5,800 jobs compared with April of last year.
The leisure and hospitality sector saw the largest month-to-month employment with the addition of 1,000 jobs, followed by the government sector, which added 500.
Compared with April of last year, the largest job gain in the metro area was in the education and health services sector, which added 1,900 jobs. That was followed by professional and business services, which added 1,400, and leisure and hospitality, which added 1,200 across the year.