RALEIGH, N.C.- That headline is not a lie. The percentage of people looking for work in the N.C. strongholds for high-tech, life science and universities is at record highs in both Triangle metros. And, worst of all, more grim news could be coming.
Unemployment in Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill increased in June to 9.1 percent and 8.4 percent respectively even though the state’s overall jobless rate decreased last month, the N.C. Employment Security Commission reported Friday.
Both unemployment rates are records for those metro areas, the confirmed to WRAL.com and LTW.
In May, Raleigh-Cary reported 8.9 percent unemployment, Durham-Chapel Hill 8.1 percent.
“Since 1990, as current records show per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics standards, the highest it’s been is in our current year,” ESC spokesperson Larry Parker said of the metro jobless rates.
Before the Raleigh-Durham metro statistic area was divided, Parker said the lowest previous rate for the Triangle area was 6.5 percent in 1975.
Dr. Michael Walden, an economist at N.C. State University, said the new numbers are grim reminders of just how bad the recession is. And the news is likely to get worse.
“The fact that unemployment rates in the Triangle metropolitan areas have hit record (since data have been collected) rates tells us how severe this recession has been,” Walden told WRAL.com.
“Even the high-tech Triangle, which many think has the best economic structure for the 21st century, now has an unemployment rate which many thought was not possible.
“Few regions in the country have been able to escape the ‘Great Recession,’ he added. “And, despite some recent encouraging news, the worst isn’t over. Unemployment rates in the Triangle will eventually approach 10 percent and in the state, near 13 percent, before starting a slow decline in 2010.”
Raleigh-Cary did add 400 jobs in June, with professional and business service and other service sectors each adding 700 jobs. However, employment numbers were down 15,800 from a year ago, led by huge drops in construction and related services (9,200), manufacturing (3,600) and professional and business services (2,800).
In Durham-Chapel Hill, employment for June fell 1,400, led by a 1,900 loss in government jobs. Services and trade, transportation and utilities sectors each added 600 jobs. Compared to 2008, employment is down 9,500, paced by a drop of 4,200 manufacturing jobs, a loss of 2,700 professional and business services jobs, and the disappearance of 2,500 trade, transportation and utilities positions.
Layoffs at Nortel, Lenovo, Sony Ericsson, Cisco, IBM, NetApp, Fidelity and GlaxoSmithKline have helped drown down tech job rolls. But the losses of construction and manufacturing jobs indicate how reliant the region’s overall economy remains on traditional jobs.
The dour jobs news came on the same day that Harris Davis, economist for the North Carolina Bankers Association, predicted more hard times are ahead for the state. He predicted unemployment will hit 12 percent “soon” and continue upward from there. North Carolina State University economist Michael Walden has predicted unemployment hitting 13 percent.
“Our state economy is suffering much more than the national economy,” Davis wrote in a new economic forecast. “Our state has a large manufacturing sector which has been severely hurt by the slowdown in world trade. The state unemployment rate, which in June was the eighth highest among the states, started from a higher level in this expansion that the last two. We can expect our unemployment rate to rise to 12 percent soon and continue to rise into next year.”
Only one of the state’s major metro areas, Winston-Salem, reported an improvement in employment. Its jobless rate decreased one tenth of a percentage point from May to 10.4 percent.
Statewide in June, unemployment decreased to 11 percent from a record 11.1 percent in May.
The county-by-county rate picture was a mix with 56 counties reporting increases in unemployment while 32 reported drops. Twelve reported no change.
“Outside of a few counties, there wasn’t a lot of change in the rates going up or down,” said ESC Chairman Moses Carey Jr. in a statement “Throughout the state, we’ve had gains in both employment and unemployment. We are seeing some summer hiring, but not at the pace in previous years. At the same time, we are still dealing with some job loss and the ESC continues to be there for those individuals needing work search assistance or help with filing for unemployment benefits.”
Employers did add 23,102 workers to payrolls in June, but unemployment increased by more than 11,000 to 514,877.
Unemployment in Wake County rose to 8.8 percent in June, up two tenths of a percentage point.
Durham County’s rate increased three tenths of a point to 8.4 percent.
Orange County reported a three tenths of a point gain to 7 percent.