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Job losses highest in Hickory region

http://66.225.205.104/JR20081204a.mp3

The Hickory region lost 2,300 during the last year, which is the highest rate of any metro area in North Carolina. Mill and factory closures are largely to blame for the big job loss in Hickory, Lenoir and Morganton over the last year. Employment Security Commission spokesman Larry Parker says manufacturing jobs used to disappear and then come back online months later when the economy improved. But for the Hickory area, Parker says those jobs appear to be gone for good. "As we have seen furniture manufacturing move overseas over the last ten years, that part of the state certainly has taken a big hit, and it hasn't changed," says Parker. "It continues to happen month after month and year after year." Despite having more job losses than any other metro area, Hickory, Lenoir and Morganton's actual unemployment rate of 8.4 % is not the state's highest. That distinction goes to Rocky Mount a 9.6 %. The statewide unemployment rate for North Carolina is now nearing 7 percent.