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Chatham County posts lowest unemployment rate in North Carolina

Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Pittsboro, NC - The latest employment report for October 2013 from the N.C. Department of Commerce shows Chatham County as having the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.7 percent. Chatham’s jobless rate has not been this positive since May 2008.

“We are one of only three counties in the state with a jobless rate at or below five percent,” said Dianne Reid, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation. “This is very good news when just one year ago we had a jobless rate of 6.8 percent.”

Based on state reports, the number of employed people in Chatham County has actually climbed by 191 since October 2012 and 1,117 since October 2011.

Reid said that while many Chatham County residents work outside the county, the EDC has reported major strides in the past three years that have brought more jobs to Chatham. “Last year alone, we worked with several new and existing businesses on the creation of 686 jobs.”

About a third of the new jobs came from expanding of existing businesses, such as Brookwood Farms, Lazar Industries and Olympic Steel. Walmart and Strata Solar led the way for news businesses locating in Chatham.

County Commissioner Chairman Walter Petty said, “We are so pleased to see these great reports as signs that we are on the right path. We have worked hard to streamline Chatham County’s regulations and ordinance requirements.”

Petty also commended the optional pre-application meetings, a staff-led effort that businesses can request. It allows them to meet with relevant departments prior to submitting business applications.

“This has been a huge help to those thinking about expanding or starting a business to identify potential issues in advance and to better understand the overall process involved,” said Petty.

Chatham County has typically had unemployment rates below the state and national averages, but the closing of Townsend’s bumped the county’s unemployment rate to 8.8 percent just two years ago. This was one of the few periods where Chatham’s jobless rate was about the same or higher than the national average of 8.5 percent.

The report on the three-county region including Chatham, Orange and Durham counties shows that the biggest growth in jobs are in the areas of leisure & hospitality (up 8.3%), information (up 5.7 percent) and education & health services (up 5.0 percent).

County Manager Charlie Horne said that the growth in leisure and hospitality jobs is consistent with reports from the NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports for the past three years. “We have been at or near the top of other counties in terms of increased spending by domestic visitors.”

The information category includes telecommunications and technology jobs, a sector that continues to grow faster than most other categories across the state.

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Chatham County posts lowest unemployment rate in North Carolina