GREENE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Unemployment rates across Eastern Carolina are trending downward according to new reports from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, but some business owners say that data does not represent the struggles they face in filling open positions.
Sitting at an even 3% unemployment rate, Greene County seems to be back on track in the workforce.
However, restaurant owners along Highway 58 in Snow Hill say they have been having trouble filling jobs for months, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.
“It’s really bad. I don’t see why the numbers would say it’s good because everywhere you look is hiring, even our sign,” Bilinda Gwaltney, Two Cousins Pizza in Snow Hill owner said.
When the new data from the state showed Greene County’s apparent employment success, Gwaltney objected.
“We’ve actually had to shut down our deliveries, which was a big thing, because of lack of help,” Gwaltney said. “We just lost one driver and we’re still looking for another one.”
Being family-owned and operated, the pizza shop had to make tough business decisions.
“It does a hurtin’ because people don’t know whether we’re going to be open, whether we are not. They question and it causes them to have to hurt too because they love our business... and I think because we’re short-staffed, part of that could contribute to the fact that we’re getting a little bit slower," said Bilinda Gwaltney, Two Cousins Pizza owner.
A few minutes down Highway 58, the staff of Piggly Wiggly tells a different story.
“We haven’t had any problems as far as employment or getting people to come to work or anything like that,” Danielle Gray said. “We’ve actually had people willing to come to work.”
Gray has worked at the grocery store for 12 years. She’s seen a lot in that time but says she and her coworkers stayed employed throughout the whole pandemic.
“I did get COVID during the time, but the show continues. Everybody showed up, everybody worked together,” Gray recalled. “We always work together. Us here, we’re going to come to work. We may have to get sent home, but we’re going to come to work.”
For employers still putting out the help-wanted signs, many shortages are yet to be filled.
The state-wide unemployment average sits at 3.5%, just a fraction under the national average of 3.6%.
With more than 55,000 new workers in the state in March alone, the hope for many struggling employers is to add to their own rosters soon.
While Greene County was reported to have the lowest unemployment rate in the East, Hyde County was on the other end of the spectrum with the highest figure of 8.7% of its residents unemployed.
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