Jobs implosion: In Graham County, Stanley Furniture announces closure, layoffs

Buncombe County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in North Carolina’s 100 counties. But other parts of Western North Carolina aren’t faring as well. On April 3, Carolina Public Press reported this news about one of WNC’s poorest counties — Graham. For the full story, go to carolinapublicpress.org. Story by Gwen Albers

Billy Davis hesitated about taking on ownership of Graham County Cleaners in Robbinsville. That was three years go.

Rumors that Stanley Furniture — the town’s bread and butter — might close was the reason.

On April 1, those rumors became reality when Stanley announced it would cease furniture production in Robbinsville.

“I think it will impact the whole county,” said Davis. “I hate it for the people who have jobs at Stanley.”

The closing will mean the elimination of 400 jobs in the rural Western North Carolina county that, in a string of recent months, has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. N.C. Department of Commerce data showed that in January, the most recent data available, joblessness in Graham County reached 14.4 percent. That was the highest rate across the mountain region, and it was the second-highest among all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

With a labor force of about 3,500, Stanley’s closure will nearly double the number of people looking for work, according to state labor force numbers.

The closing will also devastate the 600-resident town of Robbinsville and its coffers, said Alderman Bobby Smith.

“We’ve got some people who have put a lifetime into that place,” Smith said. “As far as staying in this county … our children won’t have much to look forward to.” …

For the full story, go to carolinapublicpress.org. This article was reprinted in the April 9, 2014, edition of Mountain Xpress.

 
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