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North Carolina jobless rate increases to record 12% amid COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s unemployment rate ballooned to a record 12% in April amid the coronavirus-related economic slowdown, state officials said Friday, as some restrictions on businesses were set to loosen.

The seasonally-adjusted rate of 12.2% represents a nearly 8-point increase from March. The national rate for April was 14.7%.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said it’s the highest seasonally-adjusted rate for North Carolina since 1976 when it began keeping records in the manner it currently does. Numerous other states also hit records. The previous North Carolina record was 11.4% for multiple months in 2010, according to state data.

The number of unemployed grew by nearly 360,000, more than doubling the March tally. The industry hit the hardest was leisure and hospitality, which declined by about 250,000 over the month.

The state was beginning a second phase of reopening Friday afternoon that will allow restaurants to serve dine-in patrons at half-capacity and barbers and hair salons to cut hair under social-distancing requirements. However, some businesses, including bars and gyms, must remain closed.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters that his administration is looking closely at virus trends as it guides the gradual reopening, because it’s important that customers feel safe enough to return to businesses that are reopening.

“We’ve got to make sure that people have confidence to be able to go out into the economy,” he said.

He added that his administration is “using the data to make decisions about when it’s safe to do more easing of the restrictions. And when people know that’s what we’re using to make decisions — not emotions, not politics — but science and data, people will have more confidence”

Earlier in the day, Cooper and the state health secretary briefed a bipartisan group of elected officials known as the Council of State on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Among the Republicans who have urged a faster easing of restrictions is Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who’s running against Cooper in the governor’s race this fall.

“It’s time to trust the good people of North Carolina to make wise decisions for themselves. Whether it is restaurants, gyms or bars we can choose to go or stay home. That’s called freedom,” Forest tweeted Friday.

Local news in brief


Inmate who escaped on way to another jail back in custody

greensboro — A man who escaped being transferred to another jail Friday by pretending to be sick and jumping out of a van, has been caught, authorities said.

For several hours, police had scoured the city looking for Joshua Lee Stewart of 4722 Mimi Lane in Greensboro.

Around 9:40 a.m., Stewart was in a van with another inmate on their way to the Alamance County jail. He told detention officers that he was sick and had to vomit.

The driver pulled over at the intersection of Arlington and East McCulloch streets in Greensboro.

Stewart, 33, jumped out of the van and got into a car that had keys left in the ignition.

But he didn’t get far. For some reason, he was forced to abandon the car and fled on foot.

In a news release, police said they apprehended Stewart around 8:15 p.m. but didn’t provide additional details.

PASS/FAIL? Community colleges keep letter grades; not all pleasedraleigh — As the coronavirus crisis sent students home and moved classes from in-person to online, colleges and universities across North Carolina announced unprecedented flexibility in grading for the spring semester.

But not at community colleges.

Students, many of whom must balance full-time jobs with classwork, have been told they will still be given letter grades unlike their peers at many other schools that switched to a pass/fail system.

Now, some students say that decision will make it harder to fulfill prerequisites needed for majors and hinder being able to transfer to a four-year school.

Memorial Day closings

Federal offices: Closed Monday

State offices: Closed Monday

Greensboro city offices: Closed Monday

High Point city offices: Closed Monday

County offices: Closed Monday

ABC stores: Open Monday

Schools: Closed Monday

Greensboro Transit: Hourly service from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. Route 17-Lawndale Drive will also be in operation.

High Point Transit: Dial-A-Lift and Hi Tran closed Monday.


Greensboro: No collection Monday. Monday’s collection is Tuesday. Tuesday’s collection is Wednesday. All other collections remain the same.

High Point: Collection delayed by one day. Collections are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

This day in history

In 1814, a third version of Beethoven’s only opera, “Fidelio,” had its world premiere in Vienna.

In 1911, the newly completed New York Public Library was dedicated by President William Howard Taft, Gov. John Alden Dix and Mayor William Jay Gaynor.

In 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary during World War I.

In 1939, the Navy submarine USS Squalus sank during a test dive off the New England coast. Thirty-two crew members and one civilian were rescued, but 26 others died; the sub was salvaged and re-commissioned the USS Sailfish.

In 1944, during World War II, Allied forces bogged down in Anzio began a major breakout offensive.

In 1945, Nazi official Heinrich Himmler committed suicide by biting into a cyanide capsule while in British custody in Luneburg, Germany.

In 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, an action which helped precipitate war between Israel and its Arab neighbors the next month.

In 1977, Moluccan extremists seized a train and a primary school in the Netherlands; the hostage drama ended June 11 as Dutch marines stormed the train, resulting in the deaths of six out of nine hijackers and two hostages, while the school siege ended peacefully.

In 1984, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” starring Harrison Ford, was released by Paramount Pictures. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued a report saying there was “very solid” evidence linking cigarette smoke to lung disease in non-smokers.

In 2001, the Senate passed an 11-year, $1.35 trillion-dollar tax cut bill.

In 2007, President George W. Bush, speaking at the U.S. Coast Guard commencement, portrayed the Iraq war as a battle between the U.S. and al-Qaida and said Osama bin Laden was setting up a terrorist cell in Iraq to strike targets in America.

In 2010, in a new al-Qaida video, U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (who would die in a U.S. drone attack in September 2011) advocated the killing of American civilians, accusing the U.S. of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Space shuttle Atlantis undocked from the international space station. The Czech Republic captured the ice hockey world championship, ending Russia’s 27-game tournament winning streak with a 2-1 victory in Cologne, Germany. The final episode of the supernatural castaway drama “Lost” aired on ABC after six seasons.

In 2015, Cleveland patrolman Michael Brelo, who fired down through the windshield of a suspect’s car at the end of a 137-shot barrage that left the two unarmed black occupants dead, was acquitted of criminal charges by a judge who said he could not determine the officer alone fired the fatal shots. Salvadorans rejoiced as slain Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, slain by an assassin in 1980, was declared a martyr for the faith. John Forbes Nash Jr., 86, a mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind,” and his wife, Alicia Nash, 82, were killed in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Actress-comedian Anne Meara, 85, whose comic work with husband Jerry Stiller helped launch a 60-year career in film and TV, died in New York. Jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, 78, died in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Getting it Right

Getting it right

The News & Record corrects errors in its news columns that come to its attention. It also publishes appropriate clarifications. Please call 336-373-7052 to report items that need correction.

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“The Joke’s On You” cartoon that appeared on Page B1 in Friday’s Life section had been previously published. This week’s cartoon is on Page A6 in today’s News section.