Unemployment rate drops; most new jobs in government

Nearly 13,000 more North Carolinians were working in May, but the private sector actually lost jobs, based on statistics released Friday by the state Employment Security Commission.

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Job losses by sector
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's unemployment rate dropped for a third straight month in May, and government drove the creation of nearly 13,000 jobs, according to statistics released Friday by the state Employment Security Commission.

May's unemployment rate of 10.3 percent was a half-point lower than April's rate of 10.8 percent. Overall employment increased to 3,917,600 in May, and the number of people on the unemployment rolls decreased by 20,749.

However, the number of new jobs was driven higher by government, not private sector employers.

“Many of the government gains have been in Census hiring, and not just this month,” said Larry Parker, a spokesman for the ESC. “We have seen this for the last couple of months."

The ESC noted that 16,100 of the net 12,900 new jobs came from government. Many of those are from hiring for the U.S. Census and are temporary positions, the ESC acknowledged.

Based on those figures, private sector jobs actually fell, led by a 2,900 drop in manufacturing. The leisure and hospitality sector shed 2,700 jobs.

Parker said the gain in temporary jobs offers at least some relief to the unemployed.

"Temporary jobs, yes, but still jobs, and people are working," he said. "Many of the gains in professional and business services have also been in ‘administrative’ which can signal temp hiring.

“That can be a good thing because it shows that employers are at least willing to hire someone on a temporary basis, and maybe that will lead to full-time work," he continued.

According to the ESC, governments have added 39,900 jobs in North Carolina over the past year, up 5.8 percent. Education and health services have added 8,000. Professional and business services have added 11,200.

Construction and manufacturing, meanwhile, shed 22,800 and 21,800 jobs respectively, down 11.8 and 4.8 percent.

Total non-farm employment is down 3,300 overall from a year ago.

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Rick Smith, Reporter
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