Davidson County job gains follow encouraging trend

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 11:54 AM

Widely improving unemployment numbers across the state offer a promising outlook for 99 of 100 counties, including Davidson, according to data released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
In April, unemployment rates fell to 6.3 percent in Davidson County and 6.2 percent in Thomasville, while each of the state’s 14 largest metropolitan areas also experienced decreases. Overall, the Triad’s unemployment rate was down to 6.1 percent, in contrast to 6.6 in March. A year ago, that rate stood at 8 percent.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” said Steve Googe, director of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission. “A $24 million expansion is going on in Lexington and a $25 million expansion in Thomasville. The Welcome Business Center is officially sold out, and Lexington has one 13-acre lot left. Several projects are set to be announced within the next two months.”
Beyond those ongoing projects, a June 24 public hearing was set Tuesday for three more economic development incentives that could bring a trio of projects to the county, and with them, more than $8.7 million in investments and 185 jobs. As the numbers continue to improve, so too does the labor force, which grew to 11,753 in 2013.
With the growth, Googe remains guardedly optimistic.
“We’re struggling for product,” he said. “We’re not doing 200, 300 or 400 jobs at a time, but little locations adding 20 to 100 jobs.”
Larry Parker, public information officer for the N.C. Department of Commerce, praised the efforts of counties in the Piedmont for taking steps to ensure a more promising long-term outlook, rather than the type of seasonal boost summer usually brings.
“Overall, employment is up for the year,” Parker said. “We’re seeing virtually every job sector having job gains, so I would say pretty much everything is headed in the right direction. I’m not an economist, so I can’t predict or say what’s good and what’s bad, but when I see all of the job sectors have a positive gain except for a couple that are close to even, I take that as a positive.”

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 847-9911, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.