David Kennard – Editor-in-Chief
LUMBERTON – Industry sector reports for the third quarter won’t be available until February, but data released in November provides a snapshot of the types of jobs that make up Robeson County’s diverse economy, and where jobs can be directed to. the new Year.
According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, five industry sectors make up the bulk of jobs locally employing a slow but growing labor pool.
Health Care, 18.6%; Manufacturing, 18.5%; Retail trade, 13.3%; Education, 12.1%; and Hospitality, 8.9% of the sectors complete a large majority of jobs employing workers in the county.
The industry sector of public administration narrowly missed its entry into the top five with 7.2% of jobs.
In addition, the two main sectors, healthcare and manufacturing, show a difference of just 55 jobs, according to state data.
The county, historically ranked among the poorest in the state, has seen some revitalization in recent months, with new and existing employers helping to grow the job base.
In the first eight months of 2021, the county’s average labor force was 49,851, up from 49,556 during the same period in 2020, according to data obtained by The Robosonian from the state’s Commerce Department.
The Robeson County Economic Development Office is closely monitoring available jobs – and the workers to fill them -, which works to promote the economic growth of new and existing industries in the county.
The Office of Economic Development provides an overview of the diversity of manufacturing jobs at the local level. On its website, the office lists a handful of companies and the jobs they offer, from a manufacturer of cleaning products with 400 employees, to a producer of aluminum fencing with 25 employees. A simple internet search revealed more manufacturers of different sizes.
Beyond an available workforce, Robeson County touts location and other factors that could be attractive to manufacturers and other employers.
“Most of the East Coast destinations are within a day’s trucking distance from Robeson County. And 70% of the US and Canadian markets (and 170 million consumers) can be reached overnight. Southeastern North Carolina is also a hub for rail services, and a large deep-water port lies 60 miles to the east. With a full range of transportation resources, along with abundant water and waste capacities and affordable utilities, Robeson County is ready to move in for your business.
The local unemployment rate, which has also shown a steady decline throughout the past year, is linked to the industry sector report. With a peak of 13.2% in May 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, the unemployment rate fell to just 6% in October.
Based on the trend of the past few months, Robeson County’s unemployment rate for November is expected to continue to improve when results are released on December 30.
As expected, the national and statewide unemployment rate followed this same downward trend.
The State Department of Commerce released data for November on Friday, showing a drop from 4.1% in October to 3.9% in November. Nationally, during this same period, the unemployment rate fell from 4.6% to 4.2%.
In a normal, non-COVID environment, most economists consider less than 4% to be full employment. However, unemployment rates measure the percentage of the labor force looking for work. Thus, when workers leave the labor pool, the unemployment rate decreases, since all other variables remain stable.
National reports have suggested that high levels of workers across the country have left the labor market, skewing the unemployment rate.
North Carolina industries with the largest increases in employment over the past month, according to the Commerce Department, were professional and business services, leisure and hospitality services, manufacturing and the education and health services sector.