An improving job market may be in sight for Lincoln County.
The unemployment rate for March dropped from a 6.3 to a 5.5 percent.
â€œThere are actually over 400 more people back at work,â€ said Judi Morton, manager at Lincoln Countyâ€™s Employment Security Commission
The Lincoln Economic Development Association in Lincolnton is also assisting in bringing jobs to the county, she said.
New industries such as Crate & Barrel and Australian Manufacturing have recently listed jobs with ESC.
Surrounding companies are also expanding. The Timken Company has received incentives from the county that will enable them to expand their current industry. Cataler is also planning an expansion in the future, doubling the size of their building. Blum, located in Stanley has expansion in their future as well.
â€œWe have had no sizable layoffs either,â€ Morton said. â€œI would say things are looking up.â€
The unemployment rate is also being calculated differently. It is now based on county of residence, rather than county of employment.
Morton said this change shows a more accurate reflection of the countyâ€™s unemployment rates since it is now linked to how many people live in a certain county.
Surrounding counties also experienced decreases.
Catawba County went down from a 6.9 to a 6.2 percent. Cleveland County went from a 7.7 to a 6.8. Gaston County went from a 6.7 percent to 6 percent for the month.
According to the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina, rates dropped dramatically for the month of March.
The statewide not seasonally adjusted rate dropped from 5.9 to 5.2 percent.
Overall, 97 countiesâ€™ unemployment rate dropped, two countiesâ€™ rates went up and one countyâ€™s rate remained the same.
Orange County had the stateâ€™s lowest unemployment rate at 3.3 percent. Tyrrell County had the highest rate at 11.7 percent.
There were 39 counties who had rates less or equal to the 5.2 percent state rate.
The national average fell from a 5.4 percent to a 5.2 in March. North Carolina has been at or below the national average for eleven consecutive month.
by Amy Wadsworth