New data shows lagging economies in areas in the East

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – New data shows many counties in the East continue to have economies that lag behind the rest of the state. Many of those same areas were hurt further by flooding brought on by Hurricane Matthew.

The labor data compiled by the North Carolina Justice Center shows many rural counties struggling. Unemployment rates in counties like Wilson, Tyrrell, Martin and Washington all remain high.

In Wilson, Martin, Washington and Tyrrell Counties, at least 10 percent of labor forces have disappeared since 2007. Tyrrell County has lost 31 percent of their force.

Robeson and Cumberland County, both of which were hard hit by Hurricane Matthew, have also experienced high rates of labor loss.

While Lenoir County was hit by flooding brought on by Matthew, the unemployment rate is actually down, sitting at 4.7%. Mark Pope with Lenoir County Economic Development said that number was in the double digits just a few years ago.

While some manufacturers were forced to close in the county due to flooding after Matthew, Pope said they’re now having trouble filling existing positions open within their manufacturing sector.

He said flooding hasn’t been brought up by companies looking to expand in the area, but he doesn’t rule it out in the future.

Pope said counties need to work together to reduce the risk of flooding now.

“We really have to clean our rivers out. We’ve got to dredge. We’ve got to get our byways, those streams and those other streams that come off the major rivers,” he said.

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