UNION COUNTY — More than 15,000 Union County residents have caught COVID-19 and more than 100 have died from it within the past 9 months; it has also been hard on commerce, taking away jobs and local businesses.

From February to November of 2020, almost 7,000 jobs were lost in Union County because of coronavirus, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That Bureau reports 6,799 jobs in the County were lost, a 5.7% decrease in the work force.

A report published by NC Commerce in November of 2020 shows Union County having 112,742 people employed, and a job creation rate of 3.5%.

In the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area, 77,641 jobs, a decrease of 5.8%, per a report from the Bureau.

Comparatively, in Mecklenburg County 35,062 jobs were lost during the pandemic, also translating to a 5.7% decrease.

In 18 counties across the state, including Watauga, Jackson, Ashe, Avery Graham, Hyde and Swain, the change in percentage of employed people was positive. Swain had the highest percentage increase with 12.2% (784 hired during the pandemic). Watauga County saw 1,438 hires, a 5% increase, according to the Bureau’s report.

Swain County’s population in 2019 was 14,271 and Watauga County’s was 56,177, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of Jan. 8, the unemployment rate in the country was 6.7% through December 2020, which amounts to roughly 10.7 million people.

“In December, both the unemployment rate, at 6.7%, and the number of unemployed persons, at 10.7 million, were unchanged. Although both measures are much lower than their April highs, they are nearly twice their pre-pandemic levels in February (3.5% and 5.7 million, respectively),” the Bureau reported.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate in October 2020 was 6.3%, a decrease of 0.9% from the month prior, according to NC Commerce.

NC Commerce reported North Carolina’s October 2020 unemployment rate increased 2.6 percentage points from a year ago. The number of people employed increased 79,754 over the month to 4,623,968 and decreased 294,266 over the year. The number of people unemployed decreased 41,542 over the month to 310,292 and increased 123,820 over the year.

Major industries experiencing increases were Leisure & Hospitality Services (12,600), Professional & Business Services (12,100), Financial Activities (2,900, Manufacturing (2,900), Trade, Transportation & Utilities (2,800), Construction (1,700) and Information (1,600). Major industries experiencing decreases were Government (10,000) and Education & Health Services (700).