Jobless rate goes up slightly

Unemployment climbed in Catawba County and the Hickory Metro during June — and well before news that Gildan Activewear confirmed plans to eliminate 86 jobs from Newton at the end of September.

During June, Catawba County's unemployment rate climbed to 11.3 percent, up from 10.8 reported in May. The June rate is still below the 12.7 percent reported a year ago.

The county's unemployment rate represents 8,389 people out of work — an increase of 475 people compared to May

The jobless rate in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area (MSA) also increased to 11.2 percent. In May, the MSA unemployment rate was 10.9 percent. Unemployment remained unchanged at 11.6 percent in Caldwell County, but increased slightly from 10.4 percent to 10.7 percent in Burke County.

Unemployment in Alexander County declined slightly, from 11 percent in May to 10.8 percent in June.

Statewide, unemployment increased in 84 counties, but over-the-year rates are down in most of the state.

"Over the year numbers are showing a positive trend compared to June numbers," said N.C. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dal Carroll. "Since June of last year, rates are down in nearly all of North Carolina's 100 counties. Job announcements continue to be made across our state and we remain focused on getting people back to work. Working with employers statewide and providing assistance in our employment services offices is critical to finding opportunities for our customers."

Early this month, incoming Catawba County Economic Development Corp. Board Chair Ellie Bradshaw said that job announcements are expected within 60 days in the energy and data center sectors of the industrial jobs landscape. So far no announcement has been made, and CCEDC President Scott Millar declined to provide any additional information to The O-N-E this week.

On Wednesday, Gildan Activewear confirmed that it will be closing its Newton sock manufacturing operation. That move eliminates 86 jobs at the end of September, according to Gildan officials. The company, which bought out GoldToeMoretz last year, will maintain about 50 jobs in Newton, Gildan officials said.