The statewide unemployment rate held steady at 9.4 percent during the month of June, with county totals to be released next Friday.
This is the third straight month that the jobless rate has held steady in the state, according to the state Commerce Department released the numbers for June on Friday morning. The unemployment numbers remain higher than the national average, which was 8.2 percent in June.
Scotland County’s most recent unemployment rate — for May — was 16.9.
“We haven’t had any new industry come to the area, so I’m not surprised (at the rate holding steady),” said Betty Galloway, manager for the Laurinburg Employment Security Commission office. “We are still hoping that we will draw more business here locally, but things here have looking about the same from last year until now.”
Tasked with attracting employers to the area, County Economic Director Greg Icard said the county would like to see unemployment lower, rather than staying the same.
“All of our efforts are to make it so that everyone who wants a job is able to find one,” Icard said. “Whether that takes us to an unemployment rate of 3 percent or 4 percent or something else, I don’t know.”
Icard cited his pet project, the Small Business Innovation Center, while discussing “laying the groundwork for future growth.”
Scheduled to be completed in November, the Small Business Innovation Center represents a partnership of the city of Laurinburg, Richmond Community College and the county. The center will be staffed by three RCC employees and Icard with the goal of cultivating new and developing businesses.
Attached to the center is the center’s incubator, which includes two large multi-use buildings which will be leased at an affordable rate to local employers.
“This is something that has never been done in the county before, but just like with our efforts in business retention and recruitment — it is all so that the citizens of the county can have jobs,” Icard said.
Also on Friday, North Carolina business and political leaders met in Raleigh to talk about job creation. It was the final leg of a statewide jobs tour that began in Laurinburg spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
“Our unemployment rate has remained unchanged for three consecutive months now. This is a reminder that we need to do more to get North Carolina’s unemployment rate moving in the right direction,” Hagan said in statement on the jobs numbers.