LAURINBURG — The unemployment rate in Scotland County rose from 8.6 percent in May to 9.2 percent in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That number is significantly higher than the state average of 4.7 percent, which was released earlier this week along with the rest of the nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rates.
North Carolina’s July 2016 unemployment rate was 1.0 percentage point lower than a year ago. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the number of people who are employed in North Carolina decreased by 13,203 since June and the number of people who are jobless decreased by 47,154 over the past year.
While Scotland County still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, it has decreased since June 2015 when it hit 12.5 percent. Since January of this year the rate has been on a steady decline from 10.5 percent all the way down to 8.6 percent in May.
May to June was the first increase of the year.
Despite the slight improvement in the unemployment numbers the N.C. Department of Commerce still has Scotland County listed as a Tier 1, a county with less than 50,000 and a poverty rate of 19 percent or greater.
The tier designations are mandated by the state and are based on the average unemployment rate, median household income, percentage of population growth and adjusted property tax base per capita.
The 2016 designations were released in December 2015 and Scotland County was ranked the No. 1 most economically distressed county in the state.
Scotland was one of two North Carolina counties with a double-digit unemployment rate — Scotland’s was 10.69 percent and Graham’s was 12.57 percent.
Despite having a higher unemployment rate, Graham was ranked No. 17 in the state based on a higher adjusted property tax base per capita, which factors in the average value of homes, commercial properties and land, at $141,220 versus Scotland’s $57,352.
The average median income in Scotland County was $32, 314 and there has been a negative population growth of 1.4 percent. The poverty rate in the county between 2009 and 2013 is 32.3 percent — the highest in the state.
Neighboring counties didn’t rank much higher than Scotland with Robeson County ranked No. 6 and Richmond County ranked No. 7 as the most economically distressed.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.