The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 26, 2010

Has Carlisle unemployment peaked?

For Carlisle workers times are bad but could be worse. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) reports that Carlisle ended 2009 with an unemployment rate of 6.6% and averaged 6.4% throughout the year. After five years of 3% to 4% unemployment, this is a substantial increase – but significantly better than the 9.4% Massachusetts or 10% U.S. averages. Unemployment in Carlisle has been slowly improving since September, when the unemployment rate was 7.2% and 182 were out of work. It was down to 168 in December. Is the trend continuing? Statistics for January will be posted on the EOLWD website the first week in March.

Carlisle’s rate falls about in the middle of nearby towns. Acton is at a low 5.8% unemployment, Concord at 5.9%, and Bedford at 6.2%. Littleton’s rate is slightly above Carlisle at 6.7%, with Westford at 7.6%, Chelmsford at 7.9% and Billerica a high 8.9%.

The economy has been felt at Ferns Country Store, where proprietor Larry Bearfield says, “Summer was difficult due to the lack of the building, contractor and landscape trades.” He reports an uptick since then and says the store expansion has helped business. He observes that it was quiet last week during school vacation, indicating that people can still afford to go away.

Town Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Barton reports that tax receipts are showing no significant change. He notes one bankruptcy in the past year, but in general, “There aren’t a great number of problems. There are no new names” on the list of taxpayers in arrears. Abatement requests were up, but most concerned property revaluations, not inability to pay.

Crime up

A summary of police statistics distributed at the Selectmen’s meeting on February 9 shows increases in local crime. Higher rates of breaking and entering (10 in 2008 versus 19 in 2009), domestic disputes (9 in 2008 versus 23 in 2009) and drug and liquor violations (9 in 2008 versus 49 in 2009) were recorded. Does this have anything to do with the economy? Police Chief Sullivan says that, while he has no particular insight into the rise in Carlisle’s domestic incidents, nationwide “domestics related to finances are up.” He continues, “People who lose their jobs get frustrated and find themselves doing things they ordinarily wouldn’t do.”

Most of the major property crimes in Carlisle involve drug use and are usually not directly related to the economy. Sullivan notes the reduced availability of meth and oxycontin have driven more users to heroin, “This has been a trend for years.” But, he hastens to add, “99% (of the perpetrators) are from out of town. “ Property owners can’t be complacent. I joke with the other police chiefs that we could solve our crime problems by putting a gate up,” says Sullivan, but in the meantime, “nobody’s safe.” ∆

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