NC unemployment improving but businesses still struggle to hire willing workers

6December 2021

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — The average of North Carolina’s unemployment is improving and going down in 83 of the 100 counties, but many businesses are struggling to get workers during the busiest time of year.

The latest data from the state, which is not seasonally adjusted, shows Orange County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.9 percent.

Victoria Macdonald is one person not returning to her pre-pandemic job. She’s one of the Triangle’s budding small-business owners.

She bakes delicious sweet and savory treats and runs her new business, the Raleigh Biscuit Company, in a north Raleigh kitchen.

Macdonald started it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She had been working in the food-service industry for 22 years and the last 12 were spent as a bartender.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive orders kept bars from reopening for much of the pandemic.

“There was no option, so all of a sudden it was like, ‘what do I do? How do I make something out of this?'” said Macdonald

She took a leap of faith during that time of desperation, and it’s paying off.

She usually sells out of her baked goods.

“These little things started happening and it kept growing and I’m just going along,” said Macdonald. “It’s just a blessing how it did start.”

Some other small-business owners are facing hardships.

ABC11 found nine hiring signs at the Wake Forest Crossing shopping center. Roughly half of the stores are searching for help.

A few spots are scaling back hours or closing certain days of the week.

There’s a ripple effect to the labor shortage.

Union Special owner Andrew Ullom said he is fully staffed but deliveries have been inconsistent, and he’s had to cut back on some menu items.

Macdonald has enough workers now for her grab-and-go business. She does worry about taking it to the next level.

“Coming out of COVID and understanding how to make that transition into an actual restaurant,” she said.

Some metro areas are doing better than others.

The state is reporting that Rocky Mount has the highest unemployment rate while Durham-Chapel Hill has the lowest.

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