Cary News

Jobless rates fall in Cary, Apex

Apex and Cary continue to see lower unemployment rates than the Triangle as a whole.

Both towns had a jobless rate of 3.8 percent in February, according to data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce and seasonally adjusted by Wells Fargo.

The rates dipped from 4 percent in January and 5.5 percent in February 2013.

The Triangle, including western Wake County, posted its lowest unemployment rates in February since 2008.

Holly Springs saw a slight increase to 3.7 percent, but that number is down from 4.8 percent from a year ago.

Western Wake County towns are faring better than Raleigh, which saw a 4.5 percent jobless rate in February, down from 6.5 percent the prior year.

The Triangle unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, down from 5.2 percent in January and 7.2 percent in February of last year.

Apex and Cary tend to have lower jobless rates partly because of their proximity to Research Triangle Park and other employment hubs.

The towns have many residents with advanced degrees that make it easier for them to find jobs, said Mike Walden, an economist at N.C. State University.

“The type of jobs and the type of workers that are in Cary and Apex tend to be higher educated … even compared to Raleigh,” Walden said. “The higher up the educational ladder you go, especially in today’s economy, the better chance you have of getting a job.”

Cary has big employers such as SAS and MetLife, which is hiring for its new technology office, said Howard Johnson, president of the Cary Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re very fortunate to have these wonderful corporations based here and opening those opportunities,” Johnson said.

An upswing in the economy and the housing market may have resulted in more lower-level jobs, too. Housing starts are up in each western Wake town, and retail follows rooftops.

“Hiring is up pretty much across the board with strong growth locally in retail trade, construction and professional services,” Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner wrote in an email.

He said the towns have “also done a very good job of attracting top notch businesses and developers, so they have been able to hold onto their charm.”

Apex is just getting started when it comes to attracting businesses, said Town Manager Bruce Radford.

Last summer, the Town Council approved the Peak Plan 2030, which targets land along U.S. 64 and U.S. 1 for commercial and industrial uses.

Apex plans to create an economic development department in July to help lure business.

About 85 percent of Apex residents leave town for work, Radford said.

Working closer to home will reduce wear and tear on the town’s roads, he said.

And by spending less on gas, Radford said, residents will have more to spend at local stores and restaurants.