Employment statistics are easy to throw around by presidential candidates, congressional leaders and the U.S. Department of Labor, however, making sense of the numbers can be challenging. Even the tone in which the media describes the government shut-down as “going strong” is somewhat of a contradiction. As an example: regardless of the fuzzy science surrounding employment statistics, Polk County North Carolina’s economic health and wellbeing appears to be trending in a positive direction.
Despite the fact that employment statistics are difficult to interpret, Polk County continues to sit favorably in the middle of all of the reporting counties of North Carolina. According to the N.C. Department of Commerce for August 2013, the unemployment rate for Polk County is 6.2% compared to 8.4% a year ago. Rutherford County reported 11.4%. Scotland County has the highest unemployment rate at 15.2% while Currituck County reports the lowest at 4.1
Many consider Polk County’s employment statistic as being good news, especially since “full-employment” is considered to be 5.0 %. However, on a national scale North Carolina’s 8.7% unemployment rate is among the worst in the country, ranking 44th out of the 51 published. To provide even more perspective with regard to North Carolina’s standing with the rest of the nation, North Dakota scored the lowest unemployment rate of 3.0% while Nevada claims the highest jobless statistic of 9.5%.
Counting the employed, self-employed, unemployed, underemployed, semi-retired and comfortably retired is close to impossible, requiring the conclusions to be mathematically adjusted for error. According to the published disclaimers from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, statewide estimates are produced using estimation algorithm and confidence intervals on data provided by multiple data sources. Once the final numbers are posted further factors blur the conclusions, for example only 47.6% of Polk County’s civilian labor force actually work within the borders of Polk County.
Easy enough right?