Henderson County optimistic for 2012 jobs

Henderson County has weathered stormy periods with unemployment in the four years since the recession hit, but there is hope that 2012 may show improvement.

In January 2008, the county’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent as reported by the N.C. Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security, formerly the N.C. Employment Security Commission. But the economy imploded in the fall of that year, and by January 2009, unemployment in the county had jumped to 8.4 percent. Unemployment rates continued to climb to 10.1 percent in January 2010 before hitting a record high of 10.2 percent in February that same year, according to the DES. There are a number of reasons for the spike in unemployment that the county saw in the months and years following the beginning of the recession, said Bruce Larson, a professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. “Although there are the national economic trends to be concerned with, every location is going to have different circumstances,” he said. “In an area of tourism, such as Henderson County, people are staying closer to home, so that impacts the economy. The housing situation is another thing, since people aren’t going to be moving here if they can’t sell a house at the present time — this is a huge issue. Things are finally becoming more stable after a couple of turbulent years, said Marilyn Williams, director of the Hendersonville DES office. The jobs situation in Henderson County has not returned to pre-2008 levels, Williams said, but the county’s employment outlook looks poised to improve. Activity over the past several weeks and months points to positive news on the jobs front as 2011 winds down and 2012 begins. Speaking to a group of local business leaders Wednesday, state Sen. Tom Apodaca said he believes Henderson County can get its unemployment rate back down to pre-recession levels, but it will take time. “In about five to eight years, it will get back to what it was,” he said. “It’s going to be a long, slow recovery, but I definitely think we can get there eventually, at least in this area. I think some counties will never see those kind of numbers again.” A positive outlook from Senator Apodaca, and let’s hope he is right. Read more on this at BlueRidgeNow.com.

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