Scotland County's latest unemployment figures inched closer to the 18 percent mark.
According to the state Department of Commerce, the jobless rate for Scotland was 17.8 percent for January. That is up from 17.1 percent for the previous month. The unemployment rate for the same time in January 2011 was 16.3 percent.
Scotland was knocked out of the top spot for highest rate. That distinction went to Graham County which recorded January’s highest unemployment rate at 20.6 percent, 3.1 percentage points higher than last month. Dare County had the second-highest rate at 20.2 percent followed by Swain with 19.4 percent. Orange County has the state’s lowest unemployment rate in January at 6.4 percent.
Employment officials said seasonal factors contributed to an increase unemployment rates locally as well as across North Carolina in January. In fact, rates increased in 95 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, decreased in three counties and remained the same in two counties. Over the year, unemployment rates increased in 58 counties, decreased in 35 counties and remained the same in seven counties.
“Seasonal losses in retail as well as the leisure and hospitality sector contributed to gains in the unemployment rates,” state Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll said in a statement. “While rates were up in January, over-the-year nearly half of the state’s counties unemployment rates decreased or remained the same. Our focus continues to be our customers in assisting them in finding work through programs at our DES offices and JobLinkCareer Centers statewide.”
The jobless rate in neighboring counties were: Hoke, 9.9 percent for January, up from 9.6 percent in December; Richmond, 14 percent for January, up from 13.0 percent; Cumberland, 10.3 percent in January, up from 9.8 percent; and Robeson, 14 percent, up from 12.7 the previous month.