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Some good news for a change, at least nationally, as the unemployment rate dipped to 8.5 percent last week while the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs. The statistics produced by the U.S. Department of Labor on Jan. 6 show a slowly improving economy, and marks the sixth consecutive month the U.S. has posted a net gain of at least 100,000 jobs. The national unemployment rate is at it lowest point since February of 2009.

Meanwhile, Macon County’s reported unemployment numbers for the month of November were not as positive, and that holds true for most of Western North Carolina (WNC). In November, 1,624 Maconians were listed as unemployed, out of a labor force of about 15,737 citizens, according to the N.C. Employment Security Commission. In October of last year the county’s unemployment rate was 9.7 percent.

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After months of waiting for the Legislature to officially end the 2011 Long Session, the NC League of Conservation Voters released its annual Conservation Scorecard. NCLCV has been scoring NC Legislators on environmental issues since 1999 and this year’s scores are the lowest they have ever been. The Scorecard is a valuable tool voters can use to evaluate which legislators best represent their environmental values. The Conservation Scorecard gives each state legislator a score of 0 to 100 based on his or her votes on key environmental bills in the recent session of the General Assembly.

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Federal legislation that would allow businesses such as debt collectors to make robocalls to consumers’ cell phones would interrupt people’s privacy and leave them stuck paying for unwanted calls, Attorney General Roy Cooper said recently.

“Robocalls are disruptive and annoying, and consumers shouldn’t have to listen to them if they don’t want to, much less pay for them,” Cooper said.

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I didn’t realize how cold it was until I stepped out of my warm car into the parking lot outside Eblen Charities at Westgate Shopping Center in Asheville. A silvery, pre-dawn frost lay on the grass between cars parked by people hoping that Eblen would help them with their heating bills this winter by providing oil, natural gas or money for electricity. It was the first day of November.

Standing outside the door to the Eblen offices was 48-year-old Willie Montville. Montville lives with her 27-year-old daughter and five-yearold grandson in a $412-a-month mobile home in Candler in a place “so far out, it ain’t on the GPS.” Through the glass door, I could see a hallway packed with people. There were well over 200 people inside waiting to be interviewed.

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published: 10/18/2013
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