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Three in 10 out of work in Wilson County?
Think tanks say county's true unemployment closer to 30 percent




As many as three in 10 Wilson County residents may be jobless, analysts say, a figure more than double the county’s 13 percent unemployment rate.

State data shows that unemployment climbed from 12.3 percent in April to 13 percent in May, giving Wilson the state’s fourth-highest figure. But think tanks say the unemployment rate doesn’t account for long-term jobless residents who have left the work force.

"While we have experienced some genuine — if minor — job creation over the last year, the biggest factor driving drops in the unemployment rate is the fact that jobless folks are giving up on finding work and dropping out of the labor force rather than because we are experiencing sustainable long-term job creation,” said Allan Freyer, public policy analyst for the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center.

Unemployment statistics calculated by the state Department of Commerce are derived from labor market surveys, Freyer said, and discouraged job-seekers who have stopped looking for work aren’t included in the numbers.

A more accurate barometer, Freyer said, is the percentage of residents age 16-64 who have jobs. In Wilson County, that figures to 69.6 percent, leaving about 31.3 percent of the county’s population unemployed.

The percentage of working-age residents with jobs is lower in Nash County (64.9) and Edgecombe County (59.1), according to Freyer.

State figures peg Edgecombe County unemployment at 14.1 percent, the third-highest number in the state. Joblessness rose from 11.7 percent to 12.1 percent in neighboring Nash County.

"I think unemployment is underreported,” said Francis DeLuca, president of the Civitas Institute. "All the numbers are hiding a bigger problem, and that’s the lack of jobs and the number of people who are leaving the work force.”

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center is a project of the liberal-leaning North Carolina Justice Center think tank. Colleagues at the conservative Civitas Institute agree that state data only shows a piece of the true unemployment picture.

"If people say they are not looking for work, they are not counted in the unemployment statistics,” DeLuca said. "Common sense tells you that there’s a lot of people out of work who probably aren’t being reported.”

Those receiving unemployment benefits are not automatically dropped from the labor force when their benefits expire, Freyer and DeLuca said. Their status as unemployed workers hinges on the answers they provide in federal Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys.

Nine percent of North Carolinians responding to a Civitas Institute poll identified themselves as unemployed in May, and an additional 33 percent said they were retired. DeLuca said. In an age of shrinking pensions and workers waiting longer to retire, that raises red flags.

"A lot of people report their status as retired when they would like to be employed, and that’s a function of the economy,” DeLuca said.

The 9 percent figure mirrors North Carolina’s statewide unemployment rate, which stood at 8.9 percent in May.

The Civitas poll was conducted by phone and administered to 600 registered voters in late May. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

While Wilson County’s unemployment — official or otherwise — may be high, state officials say the spike reported in May reflects a seasonal trend of college and high school students flooding the job market and probably doesn’t indicate a permanently higher proportion of jobless residents.

"It’s kind of typical,” N.C. Division of Employment Security spokesman Larry Parker said. "We see this in the May and June numbers. This is the time of year when you start to see students flooding the labor force when school’s out. You’re going to see those seasonal bumps at the end of summer and during the holiday season.”

Wilson County had 12.9 percent unemployment in May 2012, Parker said, so a 13 percent figure exactly a year later doesn’t represent a significant difference.

"It’s held steady,” Parker said. "Yes, it’s still one of the higher rates in the state, but at the same time, you have not added that much to the unemployment rate. From the numbers standpoint, things are pretty flat.”

In May 2012, Wilson County had a labor force of 41,586 people, and 5,362 were unemployed, Parker said. This May, the labor force stood at 41,610 with 5,422 out of work.

Liberal and conservative think tanks may agree that true unemployment is much higher than state figures show, but they’re sharply divided on how North Carolina can add jobs and bolster its lagging economy.

The Civitas Institute favors eliminating the state income tax for individuals and businesses and replacing it with higher sales and consumption taxes. DeLuca said doing so would make the Tar Heel State more attractive to companies seeking a home.

"Companies don’t really pay taxes — all that gets passed along,” he said. "When you have a corporate income tax, that’s just a shell game. Their employees and their customers are going to pay that tax.”

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center opposes that plan.

"Our understanding of economics is that tax cuts are a very poor strategy for boosting the economy and boosting employment,” Freyer said.

The key to bringing back the jobs, he said, is retraining North Carolina workers who were laid off from manufacturing jobs when the Great Recession hit.

"I think the unemployment problem here is based on a historical situation — we were over-concentrated and over-specialized in manufacturing industries,” he said. "Those went away, and we need to retool our economy for the 21st century.”

corey@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821
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help our teacher assistants said...

Don't know what all the laid off teacher assistants are going to do...but I do know there's a need for folks who'll watch a sick child so parents can work. Not a fun kind of job - but I bet several former teacher assistants could come up with such a business. How about a children's party or event planner? Cooking school for kids? Just thinking of novel ideas...

Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 12:21 AM
@be novel said...

Agree. I came up with a pretty clever business and ran with it and created a LLC. I'm not saying much about it here. And that's a good point..you have to do it! No one is going to hand you the magic key or give out their ideas of a great concept for free. Be creative and don't overlook the simplest things/ideas. Listen to people and hear their complaints, look at comments on articles in the paper then think about ways you could solve those problems. Sometimes it is simpler than you think.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Be novel said...

Anybody with a lawn mower? I'm a single senior who pays plenty to have someone do my yard work. Smart folks need to be competitive...I can guarantee someone will call on those looking for work if you offer a competitive price in this area (it's way too expensive!). Be creative...I saw a couple, male and female, probably in their 60s, doing yard work for a neighbor. Saw another woman in her 50s doing paint work for a homeowner unable to do this. Seniors need someone to pick up groceries, run errands, etc. Some of these ideas could lead to a lucrative business for the business-minded person.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:54 PM
said...

Take a look at the article in the paper about the college graduate who went back to school to learn a new skill; now employed and loving it. We can all play the blame game and feel sorry for ourselves or we can do something about it. Think many people tend to think college degree equals a job...it doesn't unless your chosen path is in demand.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 1:34 PM
to @serious said...

I don't think it has much to do with age. When it comes down to it, it is no different than the "young" people you mention except your aunt has years of life experiences which vaults her ahead of a "young" person. Think you are looking at this all backwards IMO; she has the advantage in a lot of areas. I was in college with someone in their 70's. It is all about choices. Help your aunt with facts, figures and what is out there in the job world not only here but other cities. Drop any excuses and act. Knowledge is power but take that knowledge and do something about it. Look at the post listing the most demanded jobs and see where you aunt can fall within those jobs; if she can't try and get there. This is not about age and if your aunt is using age as a problem, she needs to get out and do something about it. 54 is young! As the other person said, be creative! No guarantees of a job but certainly would put her above others looking.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 8:30 AM
to @serious said...

Your 54 year old aunt might want to think about becoming a certified nursing assistant, eldercare provider, etc. I know seniors who are making money by transporting friends to doctor's app'ts, grocery stores, etc. Be creative.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 1:01 AM @Serious said...

I don't think the majority of the people who are looking for work are young. Young people can work anywhere or go back to school or both. Are there any suggestions for people like my aunt who is laid off at the age of 54? It would be wonderful if we could come up with solutions instead of being nasty and judgemental. HELPFUL suggestions only please.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 9:51 PM @dexter said...

I take exception to the “majority” illiteracy or marketable comment. The definition of illiteracy is “inability to read or write” so even most elementary and certainly middle school graduate should possess that ability; my five year old can read and write basic words and could write his name at four. Online statistics say that Wilson, NC possessing High school or higher: 69.3%, Bachelor's degree or higher: 19.2%, Graduate or professional degree: 5.1%. Those could be better but certainly the “majority” of Wilson is not illiterate. There are many very successful people in Wilson and way back when the RTP was just getting started there were more millionaires per capita in Wilson than any other city in NC. You might want to look around at all the successful people in Wilson and their businesses before making your comments. As far as current day marketability, that is a fair statement among the unemployed in any city but does not represent Wilson as a whole. The “majority” are employed so that kind of blows a hole in your statement. They are marketable to someone obviously. Can we improve as a city..yes!! We can improve greatly but let’s don’t lump the “majority” of Wilson into the illiteracy category nor denote we all possess unmarketable skills. Would we have better employment numbers if more of the unemployed were tops in their trade and skills to match open jobs; of course. But that’s true in about every small city in NC apart from RTP and Charlotte. As someone stated our city has a fair share of seasonal workers and that contributes to the numbers as well. Looking at Wilson 50 years ago vs. now, I think we’ve come a very long way!


Monday, July 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM Rent some skates! said...

3 out of 10 Wilson Citizens can be found at the skating rink on Saturday nights and NAACP meetings on Tuesdays.

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:44 PM Dexter said...

The majority of people in Wilson are illiterate, and possess little or no marketable skills. I'm shocked that the unemployment rate is only 30%. Obama has repeatedly told his voters that they shouldn't have to work, and that society “owes” them.

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:30 PM @soxfan said...

Anyone who broadly makes a statement addressing 'you people' to fit a narrowly focused stereotypical notion is misguided at best. You do not adjust a job requirement to match the “unemployed” just for the numbers game; you really can't be serious? There are PLENTY of "qualified" people looking and taking open jobs; many candidates drive here from out of town (sometimes out of state) to take these jobs. Don't blame an employer for hiring the best. An employer hires an employee to do a job and within that job there are basic requirements. Yet your idea is for a company to risk success by hiring an unqualified person so 'we can get our numbers up'? Meanwhile the company fails overall due to producing substandard products. But hey, we had many employed while the fun lasted. Good thinking. Requirements of an open job have those requirements for a reason even if you might not understand the reasoning looking at it from the outside. I know we have production jobs that require math and that math is used even if in its basic form and if we waived that requirement you would struggle in your job, probably be dissatisfied, perform lower than your peers, get low performance ratings, not be a candidate for advancement, and end up leaving. It is called setting someone up for failure. Yep, some of us do know how to manage people right here in little old Wilson. And that does bring up a good point, how can anyone with basic high school education not pass a simple math requirement??

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM SoxFan said...

There are enough jobs and enough employees to fill them but they are not being filled. Seems either the workforce is too lazy or is underqualified. The businesses and factories need to adjust the jobs they have to fit the employees that are available. If a job calls for math but no one can do the math just take the math requirement out. It will get our numbers up and it will work. We need to get some managers down here who know how to run things. You people don't have a clue. Just saying.

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12:09 AM to Get Smart said...

Thanks for your highlighting occupational fields that are hiring. My niece has had no problem getting a job - with full benefits - after graduating with an occupational therapy degree. As one who's had to care for a frail parent, I know nursing is a growing field. We especially need more men as CNAs (certified nursing assistants)...the wages aren't bad for private-care nurses. As the population ages, there's going to be a greater need for this type of worker. I'd love to see some kind of arrangement for nursing students to receive free room/board in exchange for supervised nursing care internships in clients' homes. When I was in high school, I received supervised training in a hospital as a candy-striper (making beds, feeding patients, bedpans, transporting patients to therapy within the hospital setting, etc). That high school introduction to nursing allowed me to discern whether I had an aptitude for this work. Perhaps the community needs to develop a variety of hands-on volunteer opportunities for all high school students. My high school education also offered early-childhood educational opportunities, as well.. eventually the field I entered.

Monday, July 15, 2013 at 11:12 PM Get Smart said...

Occupations With the Highest Hiring Demand: 1) Nurses, 2) Computer Systems Analysts, 3) Web Developers, 4) First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales, 5) Computer application software engineer, 6) Truck drivers, heavy & tractor-trailer, 7) Retail salespersons. If you are without a job and can't find work I would be looking hard to sharpen my skills in one of those areas and be prepared to move out of Wilson. Sometimes you have to pick up and go where the job is even if you have lived here all your life. Times are MUCH different than the past. Retraining is the key, but most in Wilson don't take that road hence why many engineering/computer jobs go unfilled by people from Wilson. Don't blame the government or local city government; business does not answer to government but shareholders. You actually think a little city government can influence job hiring? That's really naivety at its best.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 8:12 PM vote said...

Next time you vote, think about the economy. It was obvious during the last national vote it was about social issues. Wilson has always had high unemployment with the seasonal workforce and couple that with a national government who insists on borrowing money and you have a bad situation. People in China make 3000 a year; those are who you are competing in Wilson. If you want a job, move to where the jobs are. No one is turning their nose at anyone, just stating facts. Its a shame someone admits they turned their nose up at someone. Maybe you should have kept that quiet.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 8:08 PM Walking in their shoes said...

I used to be one of those people who turned my nose up at the guy standing on the corner holding up a sign begging for money. Sure I would give him a couple of dollars but I was thinking to myself man get a job. Then my Dept went from fifty people down to ten and from ten to none. Its happened to me three times and each time I have been blessed enough to get another position. Some of the other people I worked with weren't so lucky and they are trying to get jobs making much less than what they used to. It can happen to anybody don't think you are immune. Most of us are a couple of paychecks away from standing in the soup kitchen line and we know it. I'm not turning up my nose anymore..lesson learned

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 9:46 AM @mike said...

You have a very close minded view. I am a professional who has been laid off twice in the last year. I have applied for many jobs at various levels... I am either over or under qualified... so why don't you stop judging others....

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 2:06 AM East Side said...

@???,
I Live on the east side, and have held a job for 20+ years.. No Baggy pants either.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 10:32 PM to ??? said...

Gee, I live on the west side of Wilson where a neighbor's home was broken into by the brother of another neighbor. It wasn't just a break-in; it was an attempted sexual assault, i.e., rape. This was a pretty violent guy - just out of prison, we later learned. Didn't have a job either. Did I mention he was white? BTW, I share this because I'm offended at your racist stereotyping of the east side of Wilson. Maybe you should get to know the west side a little better.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 10:01 PM To: ??? said...

That kind of conduct and behavior is all over Wilson and the entire US.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM ??? said...

Just go to the East side of Wilson and you will see why there is people without jobs. They walk the streets with their baggy pants and drink beer

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 3:59 PM Mike said...

I'm sorry but there a tons of jobs out there right now. Maybe not in your field of study, but there are jobs. Just because some people find it beneath them to do certain jobs don't sit around on your butt and complain. Find some recruiters in RDU area, yes most are contract positions, but they work hard for you, because they only get paid if they place you in a job. Some contracts are 3 years or more, but the most common are 1 year. If you're weak in resume writing find someone to help you, as this is the first impression you will give your potential employer and trust me a resume with many spelling errors and improper use of pronouns will get it tossed in the trash immediately. We just had a bright young college graduate interview with us and he did not get the job because he felt the need to not only read a text message during the interview, but asked for a moment to reply to it. That concluded his interview right then. Trust me when I tell you, brush up on your resume writing and interview skills. You are selling yourself to the company so it is up to you to convince them that you have more to offer.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM Mirror mirror on the wall said...

I relocated from a major city to Wilson more than forty years ago. I was attracted to the charm of a southern small town. I regularly shopped downtown and was tremendously impressed with one of the most progressive elementary schools in the state - Margaret Hearne Elementary. At the time, the school had a lottery for entry slots and affluent folks in Wilson were proud when their children were selected for enrollment at Hearne. Educators from across the state and Virginia toured Hearne on a regular basis to observe its multi-aged/multi-graded hands-on strategies. Wilson County Schools was offering grants to its certified employees to cover the cost of off-campus graduate courses (for up to 50% of a graduate degree from ECU). What happened, folks? The city lost its pride and its vision. Those responsible for planning abandoned downtown and its schools. Attracting businesses to Wilson is much more difficult now and will continue to be until leaders commit to making this an attractive community for all people.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 11:25 AM said...

I am currently employed. I graduated from college this year. I want a better paying job with benefits and a better work environment. I have filled out numerous applications and no call backs as of yet. I have had professionals look over my resume. I have networked with former colleagues. I call and check on status of my applications. Many employers don't want you to call them. What do you do when you are doing all you can and still can't even get an interview let alone a job offer? So please have sympathy for the under/unemployed people.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM thank you!!! said...

OnTo "walking in their shoes" thank you!! I am one of those people who are desperately searching for work.... I don't sit on my butt and it kills me to have to receive unemployment... although I am grateful for it... I would much rather work and receive a paycheck... it is very depressing not to be able to find work and it is truly very scary. I went from having a career to bwing unemployed...having to start over in my 40's is terrifying. All of these judgmental people who say negative things about everybody who are out of wirk better hope and pray that karma doesn't visit them in the form of losing their job...but maybe if they did walk a mile in my shoes, they would learn some humility and compassion for others. This is such a sad and selfish world.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 1:38 AM Just Wondering said...

Some of you want to blame city officials for the joblessness here, and I am sure they do deserve some of the blame. However, what have Bucky Boy Newton and Susie Q. Martin done about this? I guess they have been too busy helping their party impose its outdated morals and ideology on the good people of NC. Didn't THEY promise to go to Raleigh to create jobs?

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 10:22 PM Bring a Casino to Wilson said...

Make Wilson a city of sin. The whirligig casino! That will employ some folks.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 10:00 PM Real True Fact said...

What are city officials doing about bringing more jobs to Wilson? Nothing!

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 6:00 PM Walking in their shoes said...

I am employed thank God but I have friends that are not. I have seen the sadness and frustration that comes from looking for work and not being able to find anything. These are people that aren't sitting home on the couch they are filling out applications and making phone calls. I have even tried finding additional employment because lets face it the cost of living is just getting higher. What do you do when you fill out applications and all you hear is we're not hiring right now but we'll keep your resume on file? I'm simply saying know the facts before you start judging people who are out there making an effort and getting doors shut in their faces. Its not as easy as you think.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 3:30 PM said...

Reposing this from someone who posted this before. Too funny not to post it again.... Sometimes you just have to help yourself! Want a job, then move to where the jobs are!
“I think I have the answer regarding world hunger. You want to stop world hunger? Stop sending these people food. Don't send these people another bite, folks. You want to send them something, you want to help? Send them U-Hauls. Send them U-Hauls, some luggage, send them a guy out there who says, 'Hey, we been driving out here every day with your food, for, like, the last thirty or forty years, and we were driving out here today across the desert, and it occurred to us that there wouldn't BE world hunger, if you people would LIVE WHERE THE FOOD IS! YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! NOTHING GROWS OUT HERE! NOTHING'S GONNA GROW OUT HERE! YOU SEE THIS? HUH? THIS IS SAND. KNOW WHAT IT'S GONNA BE A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW? IT'S GONNA BE SAND! YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! GET YOUR STUFF, WE'LL MAKE ONE TRIP, WE'LL TAKE YOU TO WHERE THE FOOD IS! WE HAVE DESERTS IN AMERICA -- WE JUST DON'T LIVE IN THEM.”

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM @really said...

Actually what you are saying is shouldn't we recruit business based on the skill level of the unemployed, right? The majority are employed and are skilled; that is the direction of where we need to take our city not the tail wagging the dog. Build our talent so that the Fortune Companies want to come here vs. paying the high prices of the RTP in both label and property taxes.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 2:31 PM To "I tell you Mr. real numbers " said...

It's not just about hiring managers that have college degrees. Most employers will look past the Educational Requirement if they feel the applicant has sufficient skills to do the job. Re-read your post and look at all of the grammar and spelling mistakes you made. You think there may be some other reason you haven't found a higher paying job? Simple things like too and two, minimum and "mimimally" wage. This could be why you haven't been hired for that "maganer" job you wanted. Don't have hatred against employers for wanting the best employees they can find. They have the option to wait for that perfect applicant now that EVERYONE needs a job. Wish you the best of luck with finding work though, hate that the economy and unemployment is in this predicament.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM Me said...

You can't just look at the number of people not working unless you take into consideration students and housewives (or men) that are fortunate enough to live in a single earner household. Still, it's clear the 13 percent paints a rosier picture than the reality.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 2:11 PM really? said...

Shouldn't we be recruiting some jobs for the workforsce we do have? Sounds like the Fortune 500 companies are looking elsewhere anyway.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 12:35 PM I tell you Mr. real numbers said...

real numbers said...
I would like to know how many out of that three are looking for work.
Let me tell you sir, I been out of work for like too years now I get some jobs that I gets some cash for fairly regular, but now the state cuts my President Obama money and I HAVE been looking for a job for real like the last too weeks now. nobody is willing to hire a maganer unless they have a degree and some of us don't go to college, how about them being real and paying real money, not mimimally wage moneys.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 12:30 PM move said...

If there are not jobs in Wilson that you qualify for, then you need to move to where the jobs are located. It is not just political or even economic but sometimes our own fault. The top jobs are surrounded around technology; we lack in that skill in this town. As I've said in other posts, we could bring in the top10 companies in the Fortune 500 to Wilson and we'd still have high unemployment because folks here cannot meet the qualifications of those jobs. Think about what companies are trying to move here... Not very many are the high paying jobs but more low end (chicken plant is a fine example). The fact that plant was trying to locate here was a really bad sign. the fact other high end companies chose other citiee over us is another sign.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 9:55 AM real numbers said...

I would like to know how many out of that three are looking for work.

Friday, July 12, 2013 at 6:43 AM
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