How Has The Pandemic Impacted UNemployment In The Asheville Metro?

June 4, 2020

In a previous JPS newsletter, we reported on the pandemic’s impact on job losses in the Asheville metro (Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, and Madison counties). That information was collected from a survey of businesses conducted by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Separately, these same agencies also report on unemployment activity. The unemployment data is collected from individuals, not businesses, and thus offers a different perspective. A major source of the unemployment data is gathered from individuals filing for unemployment insurance.  

So how much has the pandemic impacted unemployment in the Asheville metro?

In April 2020, Asheville metro’s unemployment rate shot up to 16 percent; above both the national and statewide rates (see chart below). This marks the first time that the metro has had unemployment rates greater than both the nation and state. Asheville’s unemployment rate translates to 34,733 residents unable to find a job.

Monthly Unemployment Rates

Monthly Unemployment Rates - Asheville Metro, North Carolina, US Nationally
Source: N.C. Department of Commerce

Compared to all fifteen metros in the state, Asheville metro’s April unemployment rate is the second-highest, below only Hickory (see chart below). This follows 71 consecutive months in which the Asheville metro held the lowest unemployment rates among all North Carolina metros.

North Carolina Metros
April 2020 Unemployment Rates

North Carolina Metros April 2020 Unemployment Rates
Source: N.C. Department of Commerce

Finally, the demographics of those filing for unemployment benefits in April offers a more human picture of the pandemic’s economic impact. Among age groups, those workers between 25 and 34 years old suffered the largest job losses; 6,435 or 25 percent of all initial claims filed in the metro (see chart below).

Asheville Metro
April 2020- Initial Claims for Unemployment Benefits
by Age Group

Asheville Metro April 2020 Initial Claims For Unemployment Benefits By Age Group
Source: N.C. Department of Commerce

So how much has the pandemic impacted unemployment in the Asheville metro? After years of enjoying the lowest unemployment rates among its metro peers and never having experienced rates above both the state and nation, the Asheville metro finds itself in a new and challenging position. At 16 percent its April rates are second only to the Hickory metro and well above both the state and nation

To read other JPS COVID-related articles, click here.

Do you and your business need help navigating these changing times? Contact JPS.

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