By Niko Fraser
For some, the recent decline in unemployment rates is a sign of hope. For others, it is a sign of apathy.
After seeing first-time claims for unemployment rise to their peak of 670,000 during the Great Recession, the Labor Department reports that the week ended April 27, marked 324,000 people filing initial claims – the lowest amount since January 2008. Reports show claims of a decline by 18,000 from the prior week.
James Palumbo, Partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, looks at the 7.7 percent national unemployment rate and sees signs of hope of a slow recovery.
“The unemployment rates are creeping downwards,” he said. “And this is no surprise after looking at the history strong recoveries to the American economy after every recession over the past 100 years.”
An Associated Press analysis shows that since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. Since the labor market hit bottom in early 2010, the economy has grown about 2% annually and monthly job growth has averaged 162,000.
“I have confidence in the resourcefulness of the people in the government to create a boom in the economy similar to that of the previous economic recoveries,” Palumbo said.
Ryan Williams, an entrepreneur and owner of his own electrician company in Mebane, N.C., looks at the unemployment rate of North Carolina, and its recent dip from 9.4 percent to 8.9 percent over the last two months, and sees the apathetic attitudes of Americans who have stopped looking for work, rather than having found jobs.
“I do believe that the economy is slowly recovering,” Williams said. “But we keep overlooking the numbers within the numbers that show that some people are just being lazy and have just quit looking for jobs. Their laziness is making the economy look healthier than it is.”
So, while seeing reports from the North Carolina Department of Commerce that report a decrease in unemployment rates in 99 out of the 100 counties in the state over the past month, Williams remains cautious to jump to hopeful conclusions.
Nationwide, employers added only 88,000 jobs in March, a sharp drop from the average gains of 188,000 a month in the preceding six months.
Tom Brinkley, executive director of corporate and employer relations at Elon University’s career
services office, believes that the employment prospects in the coming months and years are in the technology industry.
“Here in the state of North Carolina, what we’ve seen in the past year, is an increase in the employment rate and that’s coming primarily through the introduction of new technology,” Brinkley said. “The largest population centers here in the state are in Wake County and in Durham County and they’ve come through technical positions being created with biotechnology.”
Wake and Durham County have the lowest unemployment rates in the state. It is true nationally that in places like Wake and Durham County, where research parks are located, jobs will be manufactured.
Research Triangle Park (RTP) is the largest research park in the world and is located near Durham and a small part stretches into Wake County.
According to a job growth forecast by economic consulting firm Moody’s Analytics, Wake County will experience a growth of 0.2 percent over the next annually quarter in the biotechnical industry and Durham County will experience a growth of 3.5 percent.
Nagatha D. Tonkins, director of internships and external relations at Elon University, has seen the effects of the recent dip in unemployment rates first-hand.
“What happens in the economy affects the internships that are available,” she said. “And with the increase of economical situations comes the increase of paid internships. I have seen more and more over the past couple months students who have come into my office to tell me that companies have offered them paid internships.”
Tonkins’ optimism is contrasted to the reports of payroll processor ADP, which showed the addition of only 119,000 jobs added to the market in April – marking the weakest month for hiring since September.
Palumbo, whose job in the government-mandated tax auditing industry hasn’t been affected once throughout the recession, said that people and firms are being very conservative in hiring more people in light of the economy and that hesitancy will continue to be there until the economy shows consistency of a strong recovery.