April 28 – HIGH POINT – Employers and job seekers across the region continue to put the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the rearview mirror as the labor market remained strong in March.
The city of High Point’s unemployment rate fell slightly from 4.6% in February to 4.5% in March, according to figures released Wednesday by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
The 4.5% rate last month was the second lowest in the city since the pandemic gripped the economy in the spring of 2020. The lowest was 4.3% in December 2021.
Statewide, unemployment rates fell in 85 counties from February to March, rose in three and were unchanged in 12, according to the state Department of Commerce. Compared with March 2021, unemployment rates fell in all 100 counties.
The Greensboro-High Point metro area saw a net increase of nearly 1,000 new jobs in March, said Mike McCully, associate professor of economics at High Point University. Sectors that were hiring included education and healthcare, construction and manufacturing.
The April local jobs report is expected to show further improvement due to hiring tied to the High Point spring market, McCully said.
Possible threats to long-term hiring by employers include continued supply chain disruptions, inflation and rising interest rates, he said.
Labor market gains so far this year continue the recovery of 2021.
The average annual unemployment rate in the Greensboro-High Point metro area was 5% in 2021, according to a recent report by online researcher Filterbuy. Last year, the local unemployment rate was slightly lower than the US average of 5.3%.
Greensboro-High Point’s unemployment rate has fallen 3.3 percentage points since 2020, Filterbuy reports. It was a better labor market performance than the nation as a whole, which had a decline of 2.8 percentage points.
Although national, state and local labor markets have recovered significantly from the pandemic, the specter of COVID-19 continues to push some people away from the workforce and make it harder for employers to fill jobs, according to a recent report from researchers with Stanford University, University of Chicago and ITAM Business.
Researchers report that more than 10% of Americans who were working in 2019 say they will continue what the report calls “long social distancing” after the pandemic ends.
“According to our estimates, long social distancing reduces force participation by about 2.5 percentage points at the start of 2022,” the researchers determined. “This slowdown in labor force participation shows no signs of slowing down over the past year, suggesting that it could be driving down the size of the labor force for a long time.”
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