State Unemployment Rate Lowest in 6 Years

The dip to 4.5 percent in February is the best unemployment rate seen in North Carolina since January 2001.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Not since the “dot com” boom days has the jobless rate in North Carolina been as low as it was in February when the jobless rate dipped to 4.5 percent.

That’s the best showing since the 4.4 percent rate reported in January 2001, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission reported on Friday.

Even as the state’s population and workforce continues to grow, the number of people finding work also is climbing to record highs, the ESC added.

The number of people working jumped 18,746 in January to 4,321,463. That new record total stretches the state’s highest jobs streak to seven months.

The ranks of the unemployed, meanwhile, dropped to 201,397, a decrease of 6,702.

North Carolina’s economy has added a net increase of 117,231 jobs since February of last year.

“North Carolina’s labor force and employment numbers continue to climb to record numbers,” said ESC Chairman Harry E. Payne Jr. “Over the past couple of years, our state has attracted many companies that want to call North Carolina home and it has certainly benefited our labor force. At the same time, businesses already here have been
expanding. We continue to see that trend in the first couple of months of 2007.”

The state’s unemployment rate matched the national rate for the second consecutive month.

Over the past year, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has ranged as high as 5 percent last September to February’s low of 4.5 percent.

The sectors leading in job growth in February were education and health services (1,900), leisure and hospitality (1,700) and financial services (1,300).

Over the past year, education and health services and professional services added the most jobs – 19,600 and 19,400 each.

In the state’s metropolitan areas, most dipped slightly.

• Asheville — 4.0 percent, remained the same since January.
• Burlington — 5.3 percent, down from 5.6 percent.
• Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord NC-SC — 4.6 percent, down from 4.8 percent.
• Durham — 3.9 percent, down from 4.0 percent.
• Fayetteville — 5.5 percent, down from 5.6 percent.
• Goldsboro — 4.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent.
• Greensboro-High Point — 5.1 percent, remained the same.
• Greenville — 5.1 percent, down from 5.2 percent.
• Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton — 6.0 percent, down from 6.4 percent.
• Jacksonville — 4.6 percent, up from 4.5 percent.
• Raleigh-Cary — 3.7 percent, remained the same.
• Rocky Mount — 6.1 percent, down from 6.5 percent.
• Wilmington — 4.2 percent, down from 4.5 percent.
• Winston-Salem — 4.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent.

The unemployment rate dropped in 69 of 100 counties.

Edgecombe County’s rate dipped to 7.6 percent from 8.4 percent in January. The 0.8 percent change was one of the largest in the state.

Wake (3.5 percent), Durham (3.7 percent) and Cumberland (5.5 percent) reported slight improvements. The jobless rate remained 4.1 percent in Johnston County.

Orange County reported the state’s lowest jobless rate at 3.3 percent. The highest was in Scotland County at 10.5 percent.