Unemployment rate drops in Central Carolina counties
Lee, Chatham, Harnett and Moore counties were among the 81 in North Carolina which experienced a drop in unemployment rate since May, according to data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce.
Chatham County has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.5 percent. Lee County was in the bottom quartile, ranking 16th from the bottom, at 8.1 percent — down from May's 8.4 percent.
"It's very good news that we continue to see a decrease in unemployment," said Sanford Chamber of Commerce President Bob Joyce. "Even though it's a small decline, that's more families getting a paycheck."
Lee County's unemployment rate is still above the state average, which is 6.5 percent, but Joyce said the increase in the labor pool base was heartening.
"The number of employees in the labor pool base continues to grow," Joyce said."We've seen decline in the labor pool here. and, from May to June, it grew some. And I think the number of people available for work will continue to grow."
Rodger Sauls, the recently hired CEO of the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity, was also pleased with the decrease, calling it an indicator of positive trends in Lee County's business community.
"It's good to see that it's reflected across all four counties," Sauls said. "Having a community that has highly skilled workers is a tremendous value to companies. That's part of what the Partnership is about — working in conjunction with existing industries and education communities to ensure that those types of quality workers are being produced, and it's obvious with these improving numbers that we're on the right track."
Joyce said Lee County has seen an increase in the leisure and hospitality business sectors, as well as increases in health services, utilities and manufacturing.
"Many counties have seen a decrease in [manufacturing]," Joyce said. "We've seen growth. Although small, that means more income for more families."
Joyce was confident these trends will continue, and that, over time, more and more people will be able to find quality employment both in Lee County and across the state.
"I think we will continue to see North Carolina improve," he said.
By the numbers
June 2013- 5.9 percent
May 2014- 4.7 percent
June 2014- 4.5 percent (down 1.4 percent from last year)
June 2013- 9.9 percent
May 2014- 7.7 percent
June 2014- 7.4 percent (down 2.5 percent from last year)
June 2013- 10.8 percent
May 2014- 8.4 percent
June 2014- 8.1 percent (down 2.7 percent from last year)
June 2013- 8.1 percent
May 2014- 6.3 percent
June 2014- 6.0 percent (down 2.1 percent from last year)