About 22 percent of Buncombe men in their prime working years (considered to be between the ages of 25 and 54) don’t have jobs, according to the New York Times. That compares to 16 percent of men nationally, which is about triple what it was in 1968.
Most counties in Western North Carolina have a higher percentage of men out of the work force than the national average. Swain County tops the list, with 34 percent of male residents between 25 and 54 years old out of work, according to the Times.
Last week a report from the North Carolina Department of Commerce showed Asheville has the lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan area in North Carolina, but that doesn’t take into account people who are not actively looking for jobs.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Buncombe County is among a third of all counties in the U.S. that have seen wages decline over the last nine years when taking into account inflation. Buncombe’s average annual pay in 2004 was $37,906 compared to $37,423 in 2013 — a drop of 1.3 percent, according to the Journal. Pay in most other WNC counties also dropped.