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July 07, 2009

Unequal unemployment

Although the unemployment rate has risen in virtually every community and occupation, it has not done so equally. Describe the geographic pattern of unemployment across North Carolina.

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, it really is quite striking. If you look at a map - and I'll ask our listeners to visualize a map of North Carolina - first of all, what you see is that the unemployment rate is lowest in most of our urban counties. These are counties that are in areas like the Triangle, down around Wilmington, counties around Asheville and even the counties around Charlotte. Of course, Charlotte has been hard it by the downturn of the financial sector. Unemployment is also low in the very far northeast, in counties including Elizabeth City. On the other hand, unemployment is highest in three broad geographic areas in North Carolina - the foothills counties just as you're moving west before you get to the mountains; the south central counties bordering South Carolina and a group of northeast counties around Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids. And I think what all these counties with a high unemployment rates have in common is these are our traditional manufacturing counties. These are the counties where we used to have a lot of textile employment, a lot of furniture factory employment, even tobacco employment. And now we don't have those, so those counties actually have very high unemployment rates even in the best of times. They get higher during recessions."

Posted by Dave at July 7, 2009 08:00 AM