Evan Williams

According to a recent article written by CNNMoney, First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in five years last week, signaling fewer layoffs in the economy.  According to the same article, initial unemployment claims were lower than expected, as reported by the Labor Department (Kurtz, 2013).  By all accounts, expert economist anticipated that claims would be some of the largest in recent history, but the numbers prove that initial claims reported are the lowest since January 2008.

Layoffs are once again back to what experts consider “normal” levels, but it is finding new jobs and the hiring of new employees that remain slow (Kurtz, 2013).  Recent reports have been released as recently as Wednesday, May 1st, documenting businesses hiring the least amount of employees, 119,000, since September of last year.

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According to the Labor Department, the United States economy as added an average of 159,000 jobs per month over the last year, with the reports to be officially announced Friday morning (Kurtz, 2013).  Though the issue is consuming our Nations economy, it is also important to look at the unemployment issue at the state levels.

To look at the issue from a local standpoint, the U.S. Department of Numbers reported North Carolina fell a meager 0.2 percentage points as of March 2013, lowering the percentage down to 9.2.  As is the case with most good news, bad news is not far behind.  According to the U.S. Department of Numbers, North Carolina improved upon their unemployment numbers for the month of March, but was still 1.6 percentage points higher than the national average of 7.6.  And while North Carolina is behind the National average in terms of lowering of unemployment, the year-to-year drop in percentage points for the state is 0.2.  The results for North Carolinas unemployment rate for April 2013 have yet to be released, but in March of 2013, a reported 435, 209 North Carolinians were without work.

While talking to local residents in and around the Burlington area, ranging from mothers and grandparents to students, mixed reviews were received when asked a variety of topics concerning unemployment rates.  Devonn Allison, a mother of an Elon student, admits she keeps tabs on the North Carolina unemployment rates, but feels more should be done.

“People are unemployed for certain reasons,” said Allison, “And I feel like the state of North Carolina needs to do a better job of hiring people.”

Elon Career Services reported that of 83 respondents from the class of 2012, 71 percent are either employed, working in a post-grad internship or heading to grad school.  Those numbers appear optimistic, and to some, maybe skewed.  However, current Elon students are skeptical of post-grad employment to say the least.

While they admitted that they occasionally keep up with unemployment news in North Carolina and Nation wide, a sense of rejection begins to kick in.  One senior student, Emily Buehler, moved on from applying to U.S. jobs and applied and will be working overseas in the coming year.

The Elon seniors also harped on the disheartening factor in response as to why people are taking themselves out of the job market.

“I think students get to the point where they feel like it is easier to just stop after being rejected so many times,” said Buehler.  “They just say ‘well I guess I’ll try another time.’”

Allison presented a less talked about reason, but nonetheless a prominent issue.

“Some people may not have transportation, and that’s another problem in North Carolina, the transportation system,” said Allison.  “Elon has the bio bus, but I don’t know if it serves everyone.  And Burlington, Graham, Haw River, Mebane, they don’t have a transportation system.  So that just makes it hard for people to look for a job or fill out an application.”

Marie Eyes, a stand owner at Elons Local Farmers Market, holds out optimism for those without a job, believing it is just the will and want to work.

“I just want to work,” said Eyes.  “I don’t care what the pay is, I just want to work.  And I think people are getting to that point and are just happy to get a job.”

Regardless of what view you hold on the unemployment issue at large in North Carolina and our Nation, it is a pressing issue that continues to be addressed each day, but will not be solved overnight.

And a quick glimpse at other unemployment percentages across the country: