Surry County’s unemployment rate rose slightly in May, to 10.1 percent, according to figures released yesterday from the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division.
The double-digit numbers show a .4 percent increase from April, which boasted a single-digit figure of 9.7 percent.
May’s jobless numbers were an improvement over the same time last year, which recorded an unemployment rate of 11 percent. In 2010, the county suffered under a 12.2 percent unemployment rate, with more than 4,100 residents out of work.
Local officials who closely watch the jobless numbers said nothing should be inferred by the higher rate last month.
“Those numbers are going to fluctuate all the time,” said Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.
Tucker said he believes the increase is the result of severance packages ending at businesses like Harvest Time Bread and L.C. Transportation.
“Some of those closures offered employees severance packages and those are probably ending,” he said. “I’m expecting the rates to fluctuate like that from now until the end of the year.”
Tucker predicted that the county’s numbers will remain between eight and 10 percent “for the next year or so.”
“Hopefully, over the next couple of months we might just have something to put a dent in that number,” he said.
Last month, the county reported a civilian labor force of 33,044, with 29,706 people reporting full-time employment and 3,338 reporting being out of work.
Last year, the county reported 3,687 people out of work in May.
While the county is still struggling with double-digit unemployment, neighboring localities to the east seem to be doing better. Both Stokes and Forsyth counties reported a jobless rate of 8.9 percent.
To the west, Wilkes County reported a 10.9 percent unemployment rate last month, while Alleghany County’s rate was listed at 10.6 percent, according to the agency.
Statewide, unemployment rates rose in 76 of the state’s 100 counties last month, while falling in 21 and remaining unchanged in three.
State employment officials say the numbers indicate a positive surge in the state’s jobless rate.
“While rates were up in most counties for May, over the year we see a positive downward trend,” said Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll. “Rates were down in 88 counties across North Carolina since May of last year.”
Currituck County boasted the state’s lowest unemployment rate last month, at 5.2 percent. Scotland County reported the state’s highest rate, at 16.9 percent.