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Triangle jobless rate dips to 8.7 percent in November

The Triangle's jobless rate dropped slightly in November to 8.7 percent, but economists expect it to continue rising into 2010.

The latest rate is based on county-level data released today by the N.C. Employment Security Commission and adjusted for seasonal affects by Wells Fargo Securities economists in Charlotte.

The November rate was a small improvement from October's adjusted rate for the Triangle of 8.9 percent. And it was still much stronger than the November state rate of 10.8 percent and national rate of 10 percent.

Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner predicts the Triangle rate to top out at 9.5 percent this summer.

Manpower survey points to moderate hiring in first quarter

A few more employers in the Triangle expect to resume modest hiring in the early months of 2010, according to a quarterly Manpower survey released today.

From January to March, 13 percent of the Raleigh-Cary companies interviewed by the staffing firm plan to hire more employees, while 9 percent expect to reduce their payrolls. That's a slight improvement from the previous quarter and a year earlier.

The figures mirror what Manpower found nationally, with about 12 percent of 28,000 employers expecting to increase their staffing levels during the first quarter, and 12 percent planning to cut more jobs.

A big problem is that there have been so many jobs lost and so many people looking for work, it will take years to get back to full employment, said Jonas Prising, president of Manpower in North America. Very few employers are rushing to hire until there are further signs the recovery will stick.

"The numbers are staggering," said Prising, who visited reporters and editors with The News & Observer on Tuesday. "It's going to take a long time to get back to where we were."

There were about 6.3 unemployed people, on average, for each job opening in October, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. That's up from 6.1 percent in September and 1.7 in December 2007, when the recession began. The number of jobless people rose to 15.7 million in October, up from 15 million.

Still, for the first time in six or seven months, Manpower is seeing some stabilization in the labor market, Prising said.

Triangle jobless rate flat at 8.9 percent in October

The Triangle's jobless rate stayed flat at 8.9 percent in October, as this region remains healthier than the state and nation.

The latest data was released this morning by the N.C. Employment Security Commission and adjusted for seasonal effects by Wells Fargo Securities economists in Charlotte.

The revised data provides a more statistically valid measure of local unemployment. The ESC adjusts the state rate each month.

North Carolina's jobless rate rose to 11 percent in October, above the national rate of 10.2 percent. National data for November are scheduled to be released Friday.

"The Triangle is weathering the storm better than most metropolitan areas of the country," said Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner. "We've had a few hits, but we've had some positive news that offsets that."

Charlotte's seasonally adjusted rate surged to 12.9 percent in October from 12.3 percent, Vitner reported. That region has a larger concentration of manufacturing, which was hit hard by the recession.

N.C. unemployment rises to 11 percent

Tags: .biz | ESC | unemployment

North Carolina's unemployment rate rose in October to 11 percent, erasing any progress made in recent months and returning the state to the same unemployment rate it had in June.

The figures, released this morning by the N.C. Employment Security Commission, showed that the number of unemployed workers in the state rose by 4,537 in October.

The state's unemployment rate has been above 10 percent since February.

"We've had ups and downs concerning the number of people employed and unemployed, but we haven't experienced any significant changes," said ESC Chairman Moses Carey Jr.

Since this time last year, the number of unemployed workers in the state has increased by more than 174,000.

Triangle jobless rate rose in September

The Triangle's unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in September.

The latest data were released today by the N.C. Employment Security Commission and adjusted for seasonal effects by Wells Fargo Securities economists in Charlotte. The News & Observer uses the revised data to provide a more statistically valid measure of local unemployment The state jobless rate, which remained flat at 10.8 percent in September, is seasonally adjusted by the Employment Security Commission.

Though the rate rose from August's level of 8.5 percent, Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner said there were still some positive signs.

"What we’re seeing is that the percentage of people that were unemployed because they were laid off is not rising anymore," he said. "We’re simply not creating jobs fast enough to keep up."

The Triangle fared better than other areas of the state and remained below the U.S. unemployment rate of 9.8 percent. In Charlotte, unemployment rose from 11.5 percent to 12.2 percent.

And, Vitner said, the increases will likely continue in the next few months.

"I would like to say the unemp rate has peaked," he said. "It hasn't."

New health insurance plans target short-term buyers

Starting today, Golden Rule Insurance Company will offer two new health insurance plans in North Carolina and West Virginia targeted at people who need short-term coverage.

The plans, called Short Term Medical Plus and Short Term Medical Value, are specifically meant to cover people who are between jobs, graduates looking for work, students who are no longer covered by their parents' plans and other people whose health care coverage is affected by some kind of life transition.

Residents can choose from one to 12 months of coverage under both plans and can apply for additional months and consecutive short-term plans if they need to.

Deductibles for the plans range between $250 and $10,000. According to the company, here are a few examples of what the plans would cost for people in our area, depending on which plan options were chosen:

*a young adult, ages 19 to 24, living in the Raleigh area choosing 1 to 6 months of coverage could expect to pay between $28 and $134 a month.

*a young family, parents in their mid-30s with two children under age 10, could expect to pay between $81 and $397 a month.

*An empty nester couple, in their late 40s, could expect to pay between $93 and $421 a month.

Indianapolis-based Golden Rule is a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare that specializes in offering health coverage to people not covered by employer plans.

State unemployment drops slightly

The state's jobless rate dipped slightly in August to 10.8 percent.

The latest jobless data was released this morning by the N.C. Employment Security Commission.

The state's jobless rate remains well above the national average of 9.7 percent in August.

Most economists predict unemployment will continue to rise into next year, even as the economy shows signs of healing. The jobless rate is typically a lagging indicator: Many employers won't start hiring again until they're certain their business is improving.

And many Tar Heel workers still face tough times. Companies from Caterpillar to Nortel Networks plan to cut more jobs in coming months as they retool.

Just this week, ConAgra announced it would lay off more than 300 at its Slim Jim plant in Garner, and Hanesbrands reported it would close a yarn factory in Sanford and eliminate 150 jobs.

Still, there are some local companies looking to hire. Affiliated Computer Services is adding hundreds for a Raleigh call center, for example. And retailers such as Trader Joe's are hiring for new stores.

Wal-Mart hiring 425 for new Apex store

The state's largest employer is preparing to hire 425 workers in Apex.

OK, so not everyone wants to be a part-time greeter at a new Wal-Mart. But the store also needs full-time employees, including supervisors. And the retailer has done a lot during the past few years to polish its reputation, including improving benefits.

Brother, can you spare a job?

As former Charlotte Observer reporter Clay Barbour will tell you (with apologies to Johnny Cash, of course), it's rough out there in the Tar Heel state right now.

(Thanks to Michael B.)

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