A drop in the county’s unemployment rate from August to September could be fool’s gold according to Betty Galloway, manager of the Laurinburg Employment Security Commission office.
Unemployment in Scotland County stood at 17.2 percent in August and dropped to 16.1 percent for the month of September. Statewide unemployment is at 8.9 percent, down from 9.7 in August.
Galloway said that the improved number is likely due to the expiration of extensions filed with the unemployment office, a common occurrence around this time of year.
“Unfortunately with some of those (no longer counting as unemployed) a lot of the extended benefits are ending and more people will be trickling off tomorrow, so unfortunately it may be that,” Galloway said.
While Scotland County still owns the ignominious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in North Carolina, statewide unemployment is down in 97 of the state’s 100 counties.
Nearest to Scotland County is Graham County, where unemployment is 14.7 percent.
Based on past trends, Galloway suspects that unemployment will stay on the decline due to seasonal hiring over the next few months.
“It’s a trend that you always see, but within the next report (after season employees are released) you will see unemployment spike back up,” Galloway said.
The county ESC office had a pretty typical September and not one that seemed to indicate any significant economic progress, Galloway said.
“We have had a few that have gotten jobs but only a couple here and a couple there. Until we get a major industry that will come and employ 300 or 400 folks, we’ll take the two or three here and there.
“That has become the way of life around Scotland County.”
Just over 2,000 people are currently unemployed in the county.
While Galloway said that most of the people at her office are familiar faces, some are new.
Galloway has even seen a few new people in her office who moved to Scotland County from other states because they were told there was work in the area.
“For some reason someone told them that there were jobs here. They say a friend told them.
“I tell them ‘That’s not a friend.’”