Lincoln Countyâ€™s unemployment rate for the month of December went up from a 5.6 in November to a 5.8.
Judi Morton, manager at Lincoln Countyâ€™s Employment Security Commission said she is relieved that the rate did not go up more than it did.
â€œI think that because there was a drop in the overall labor force, that kept it from happening,â€ Morton said.
She said she expected the rate to go up more than it did due to the recent layoffs that occurred at Hooker Furniture in Newton, which employed many Lincoln county residents.
Their last day of work was at the end of October.
Last yearâ€™s December rate was 6.4.
â€œOur rate now is a good bit better from last year,â€ Morton said.
She hopes that the January rate will stay pretty steady but admitted that it could fluctuate.
â€œWe havenâ€™t had any other significant layoffs nearby that would effect our rate,â€ she said.
Surrounding counties had a range of ups and downs with the unemployment rate.
Catawba County took a jump downwards from a 6.9 to a 6.6 for December.
Cleveland County kept the same rate at 8.3 percent.
Gaston Countyâ€™s rate went up from a 5.9 in November to a 6.2 in December.
Statistics show that 83 counties in North Carolina have lower unemployment rates than in December 2003.
Last December, seven counties had unemployment rates above 10 percent, that number has now dropped to one.
For the tenth consecutive month, Vance County had the stateâ€™s highest unemployment rate at 11.2. Watauga County had the lowest rate for the third consecutive month at 2 percent.
North Carolina added 77,800 jobs in 2004, while the stateâ€™s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped by .6 percentage points over the course of the year.
The December state unemployment rate rose from to a 5.2 percent from a 5 percent rate in November. However, the unemployment rate, for the tenth consecutive month has remained below the national average of 5.4 percent.
As 2004 came to an end, North Carolinaâ€™s economy showed a significant increase in employment from January 2004. Seasonally adjusted employment rose by 19,346 and unemployment fell by 24,229 since the beginning of the year.
by Amy Wadsworth