RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's unemployment rate is up as the state led the country in the number of jobs lost in November. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says North Carolina lost 12,500 jobs in November, the most in the country.
Job losses were worse in trade, transportation and utilities (a drop of 5,200) and leisure and hospitality (down 5,200). Construction and manufacturing jobs also fell by 2,300 and 1,600 respectively.
David Clegg, deputy chairman of the Employment Security Commission, pointed out that not all jobs lost to the count represent people who were laid off or fired.
"Those specific positions could have transitioned out of the labor market for a number of reasons. There could have been a restructuring. There could be a merger. They could have been taken off the books for tax purposes," he said.
Clegg said the decline has been happening for years.
"Of course it concerns me," he said. "Since the end of 2008, NC has lost 282,000 jobs. That is larger than some state's labor market entirely."
But in November, Clegg added, the number of newly unemployed people only grew by 3,300 people.
"That is good news for the economy as a whole," he said, because the unemployed represent a small portion of the nearly 4.5 million people in the North Carolina workforce.
Unemployment is down from this time last year, but that means nothing to Claretta Sutton, an unemployed Greensboro resident.
"I got a B.S. degree in management, organization and development, and there's hard to find a job even if you have your degree," she said.
Clegg said overall, North Carolina's economic forecast is looking up. The education and health services sector, for example, added 4,800 jobs in November.
The state's Employment Security Commission on Friday reported that North Carolina's unemployment rate ticked higher from 9.6 percent in October to 9.7 percent in November.
The October rate was the lowest since January of 2009, but the change resulted from thousands of people dropping off payrolls and out of the job hunt, not because more workers found employment. The number of people working fell by more than 8,000 to 4,033,121.
The number of people seeking work or receiving unemployment benefits and therefore counted as part of the work force on which the employment rate is calculated increased by nearly 5,000 to 433,240 compared to October.
The national unemployment rate also rose in November to 9.8 percent. November is the second straight month since March 2008 that North Carolina's unemployment rate wasn't higher than the national average.