N.C. adds jobs but unemployment rate reaches 7%

North Carolina employers added a net 4,100 jobs in October but unemployment number reaches all-time high of nearly 319,000. Jobless rate is highest since January 2002. Holiday hiring picture, meanwhile, is mixed.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s unemployment rate climbed to 7 percent in October, even though the state reported a net increase of some 4,100 jobs.

The jobless rate had gone to 6.9 percent in August and September as the expanding nationwide economic slowdown spread across Tar Heel industries ranging from finance and home construction to high tech.

Not since January of 2002 has the unemployment rate stood at 7 percent.

However, the increase in jobs is encouraging, said Larry Parker, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

“Employment certainly outpaced unemployment,” Parker said. “We’ve leveled off little bit. Good news is that we’re pretty static.”

The stabilization in the job market has so far not had an impact on holiday hiring by retailers, though. Parker said many stores are taking a “wait and see attitude. If the first week of December goes well, then they’ll start hiring,” he said. On a positive note, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS have begun hiring temporary workers, Parker added.

Due to a revision by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina’s jobless rate was adjusted down slightly for September to 6.9 percent from 7 percent.

Despite the increase in jobs, the number of unemployed in the state is at an all-time high of 318,997, the NCESC noted. That total is an increase of 912 from September.

Unemployment in October of 2007 stood at 4.7 percent.

The national unemployment rate last month was 6.5 percent.

The ESC noted that the number of people working has actually increased for two consecutive months and in three of the last four. However, ESC Chairman Harry Payne noted that the job market remains “competitive” for those seeking work.

“Unemployment was relatively unchanged in October,” Payne said. “There was a slight increase in unemployment, but we are encouraged by the increase in employment for the third time in four months.

“Both global and national trends continue to impact the state’s economy and employment picture,” he added in a statement. “The job market throughout the state remains a very competitive one and we see that in our offices every day.”

Despite the increase of jobs in October, nearly 54,000 fewer people have jobs than a year ago, the ESC said.

Educational and health services firms added the most workers (3,300) in October, followed by leisure and hospitality (2,600) and construction (2,100).

The biggest drops occurred in manufacturing (4,300), trade, transportation and utilities (1,400), professional and business services (1,200) and financial activities (900).


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