Triangle unemployment rate falls slightly to 8 percent

Posted June 25, 2010 10:20 a.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2010 5:24 p.m. EDT

— Unemployment in the Research Triangle metropolitan area dipped slightly to 8 percent in May, the state’s Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

When the rate is seasonably adjusted for predictable patterns, the jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent in May from 8.3 percent in April, according to East Carolina University Economist James Kleckley.

The jobless rate in April was 8.1 percent.

Statewide, unemployment fell in 86 of 100 counties, the ESC reported.

The North Carolina jobless rate is 9.9 percent.

“A majority of North Carolina’s counties experienced a decline in their unemployment rates,” said ESC Chairman Lynn Holmes in a statement. “Some counties benefited from seasonal hiring, which is typical this time of the year. We continued to experience industry growth within our metropolitan statistical areas. In May, 11 of the state’s 14 metros had an increase in job growth.”

Unemployment rates in those 14 areas for May were:

• Asheville — 8.2 percent, down from 8.6 percent in April.
• Burlington — 10.9 percent, down from 11.1 percent.
• Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC — 10.9 percent, down from 11.2 percent.
• Durham-Chapel Hill — 7.3 percent, no change.
• Fayetteville — 8.7 percent, up from 8.6 percent.
• Goldsboro — 8.4 percent, down from 8.6 percent.
• Greensboro-High Point — 10.6 percent, down from 10.8 percent.
• Greenville — 9.7 percent, no change.
• Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton — 13 percent, down from 13.4 percent.
• Jacksonville — 7.5 percent, no change.
• Raleigh-Cary — 8.2 percent, down from 8.4 percent.
• Rocky Mount — 12.9 percent, down from 13.1 percent..
• Wilmington — 9.4 percent, down from 9.8 percent.
• Winston-Salem — 9.4 percent, down from 9.5 percent.

As of March, the unemployed in North Carolina could be eligible for up to 53 weeks of benefits. An average of 20,000 people per week could lose their unemployment benefits each week if Congress declines to approve an extension of those funds, Larry Parker of the ESC said.

Senate Republicans quashed a bill that would provide that extension earlier this week in response to constituents who asked them not to increase the national debt.

Democrats hope that political pressure from voters outraged about the cutoff of jobless benefits averaging $300 a week and from business groups seeking renewal of longstanding tax breaks might eventually revive the bill.