Rockingham County added 129 jobs between February and March of this year. This marks two straight months of job growth, according to numbers released Wednesday, May 1 by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.
At the end of March, 38,791 people had jobs in Rockingham County. That’s up from 38,662 at the end of February. All total, Rockingham’s numbers were good enough to rank 75th in the state, coming in at 11.3 percent. Orange County came in first, with a 5.6 percent unemployment rate, followed by Chatham at 6.2 and Henderson at 6.7 percent, respectively. Graham County came in at the bottom of the line with a 17.8 percent unemployment rate. Swain County was right above it at 16.7 percent and Scotland County was third from the bottom with 16.1 percent unemployment.
To give a comparison, the statewide average unemployment rate was 8.9 percent.
“Over the month, the unemployment rate decreased in 99 counties, with the exception of Wilson County, which remained unchanged,” said North Carolina Division of Employment Security Public Information Director Larry Parker.
In Rockingham and the surrounding areas, the majority of new jobs came from small business, transportation and utilities like Duke Energy. In Rockingham, Forsyth and parts of Davidson, those industries added 1,000 jobs, a 1.4 percent increase over February. Local government was another big employer, with counties and cities in the area hiring 400 new workers. The final increase came from the financial industry, with banks over the two counties adding 100 workers.
Even with the increase,Rockingham County still ranks as the only one in the surrounding area with a high rate of unemployment. Guilford, Forsyth, Caswell and Stokes counties all fall either just under or just over the state average. Stokes came in the lowest at 7.9 percent, while Forsyth reported an 8.4 percent unemployment rate. Caswell County saw an 8.8 percent rate, while Guilford was just above the state average at 9 percent. Rockingham also is one of the counties in this area with a high amount of unemployment benefits paid out. The North Carolina Employment Security Commission reports that from April 2012 and March of this year, an estimated $11.2 million in unemployment benefits went to Rockingham residents. Statewide, the bill came to $2.6 billion during that time period.
This marks just the second month where North Carolina used updated data from the census, rather than relying on old numbers. Parker explained the state was just now updating records.
“Starting with the January 2013 national labor force statistics, [the state] incorporated population controls that reflect the census population estimates for 2012,” Parker said. Basically, the February numbers mark the first time the new census data had been used, meaning that numbers used for the months prior were inaccurate.
One expansion finished
At least one company has expanded operations in Rockingham. On Friday, April 12, Premiere Finishing and Coating announced that it has expanded warehousing and distribution operations. The company took over 60,000 square feet of space at310 Rockingham Drivein Reidsville.
Premiere Finishing deals with contract prefinishing of hardwood flooring and panels for the cabinet and furniture industry. Its main plant and offices are located at 642 Grooms Road in Reidsville. The company has been in Rockingham County since 2002 and currently has 53 full-time employees. The expansion does not include any new jobs at this time, according to the Rockingham County Partnership for Economic Development.