N.C. unemployment remains above 11 percent

Posted March 10, 2010 10:14 a.m. EST
Updated March 10, 2010 7:15 p.m. EST

— North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained stuck around the 11 percent mark in January, according to statistics released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Commission.

The state jobless rate was 11.1 percent, or about 502,000 unemployed, in January, up from 10.9 percent in December.

North Carolina has hovered around 11 percent unemployment since last April. In January 2009, unemployment statewide was at 9.2 percent.

Since the beginning of last year, the state has lost 114,200 non-farm jobs, officials said. Total employment statewide was 4,036,018 in January.

The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in January.

The construction industry sustained the biggest job losses in January, shedding 5,000 jobs, according to the ESC.

Meanwhile, 8,000 jobs were added in the trade, transportation and utility sector, 5,700 were added in professional and business services and 3,700 were added in leisure and hospitality services.

Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, sees that as a positive indication for the state.

"I do think we'll start to see consistent job gains," he said. "I won't go out on a limb and say every month, but I think the trend now is toward an improvement in the number of jobs."

The road ahead, Walden says, will be tough.

He believes the state's unemployment rate will continue to climb, reaching a peak of possibly more than 11.5 percent in the next few months as more people re-enter the labor force.

"As the job market begins to improve, once again, those folks who have given up looking for work, they start looking for work. They're counted as unemployed, and the rate goes up," Walden said.

By the end of the year, however, he believes the rate could dip below 10 percent.