Local economy continues to take steps

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Good news sometimes comes in small packages. The Twin Counties economy received a couple of parcels this week.

First came word that the U.S. Postal Service distribution center on East Raleigh Boulevard is staying open for the time being, as reported by Telegram business writer Corey Davis.

A year ago, Postal Service employees at the facility were preparing for the worst – a shutdown and the loss of about 120 jobs. But a grassroots campaign led by local union workers appears to have had an impact. The facility remains open, and there are no immediate plans to shut down the center, according to Phillip Johnson, branch president of the local 305 Mail Handlers Union in Rocky Mount.

At the same time, the unemployment rate has dropped a bit more. Edgecombe County’s unemployment rate fell from 9 percent in November to 8.8 percent in December. Nash County’s jobless rate went from 6.9 percent in November to 6.6 percent in December.

Unfortunately, some of that change must be attributed to a drop in the civilian labor force in both counties. In other words, there aren’t as many people here looking for work as there were a few years ago.

But we’re heartened by recently announced work force expansions at Hillshire Brands Co. in Tarboro and Draka Elevator Products in Rocky Mount. We’re hopeful we’ll hear more positive news about the area economy in the near future.


Postal Service

While I acknowledge there are benefits to the USPS distribution facility and jobs staying in Rocky Mount it also highlights some of the problems with the Post Office and government. Mail Volumes have been declining significantly except for packages and that trend is likely to continue. The Postal service even favors e-mail over 1st class mail in its own communication activities. The Postal Service likely will not need as many facilities and needs to operate more efficiently. The Postal Service is also straddled with high benefit and retiree costs which are not all its fault. The Post Office doesn't have to make drastic and painful decisions because they will be bailed out by the federal government if the need arises.

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