Ruth Sturm

Unemployment rate falls, maybe due to decrease in number of job applicants

The North Carolina unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent between March and April, bringing it to 8.9 percent, the lowest it has been since January of 2009. However, many experts believe that this rate is due to a decline in the number of people actively searching for jobs, rather than an increase in hiring. When jobless citizens stop looking for work, the government no longer considers them unemployed, according to The Boston Globe.

Many believe that the number of people that have stopped looking for work has to do with the emotional toll that a continuous job search can have. Although the number of people that are unemployed fell by 15,259 between March and April, there were 4,200 fewer people with jobs than there were in March, according to the Virginian Pilot.

“I was very surprised by that because I look on different websites for employment, and there are a lot of jobs out there,” said Devonn Allison, a Burlington resident. “There are a lot of jobs out there, but they’re just not hiring people, and I don’t know why.”

North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country, after Nevada, Illinois, California and Mississippi. This may be due to a lack of technical industry or big business. North Carolina has long been a state which focuses on manufacturing. In fact, over 20 percent of North Carolina’s state income comes from manufacturing, as opposed to the national average of 12 percent. North Carolina’s focus on more traditional industries, such as tobacco or textiles, also puts it at a disadvantage, according to N.C State Extension Economist Mike Walden, as these types of industries are on the decline.

But some North Carolina residents, such as Allison, believes North Carolina’s high unemployment rate stems from the state’s large rural population.

View U.S April Unemployment Rates in a larger map

“A lot of the smaller areas, including Burlington or Elon…don’t have a transportation system. So its hard for some people to get back and forth to look for a job or fill out an application. And nowadays you have to fill out an application online, and a lot of people don’t have a computer,” said Allison.

Even those who are only residing in North Carolina briefly for school, like Elon University student Lauren Clapp, can see the impact joblessness has on citizens.

Clapp is a senior, and is currently in the process of applying for dozens of job openings, if not more. Clapp has experienced her own struggles with the potential for unemployment, although she has purposefully chosen to apply for jobs outside of North Carolina, due to its penchant for a lack of hiring opportunities. Although she is optimistic about her job prospects, she thinks she knows the reason so many people have chosen to stop their job search.

“I think it is probably really discouraging. I have even felt it in a small way, I’ve been applying for so many jobs and I keep getting rejected by them, and I think if you are doing that over time it can be very difficult,” said Clapp.

Emily Buehler, a senior at Elon University, was also worried about high unemployment rates. But she chose a slightly different coping mechanism.

“Yes it did [make me nervous] so I chose to look for employment outside of the country, and am working not in this country next year.” said Buehler.

Buehler will be teaching English with The Jet Programme, or the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme, in Japan for the next year. But she is still worried that the job prospects may not be significantly improve by the time she returns next fall. Many students share this concern, as they are about to leave school and enter into the job market.

However, there is some hope for graduates. While the national unemployment rate was at 7.5 percent in April, the undergrad unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent. In fact, the number of college-educated workers with jobs has risen substantially since the beginning of the recession, according to the New York Times.