Business

NC unemployment rate climbs to 9.9 percent - highest this year

Posted July 22, 2011 10:43 a.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2011 11:30 a.m. EDT

Unemployment

— Layoffs in state and local governments have driven North Carolina’s unemployment rate to the highest level in nearly a year.

Some 10,200 jobs were cut from the public sector, including 7,200 in state government, leading to a statewide jobless rate of 9.9 percent in June, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

That’s the worst since October 2010, when unemployment dipped under double digits for the first time in several months.

The drop in government jobs was not necessarily linked to the recently passed state budget, which took effect July 1, said Larry Parker, spokesman for the ESC.

“It’s too early to tell” if state agencies and other governments were cutting jobs ahead of expected budget cuts, Parker said. He noted that government jobs, especially at community colleges and universities, jump in summer months when teaching and other staff jobs are cut until the fall term.

“There was a larger increase that we typically see this time of year in that portion of state government,” Parker said of the university and community college job category. Asked whether the cuts are budget related and will be longer term, he said “It’s too early to tell.”

North Carolina’s jobless rate had been stable at 9.7 percent for the last three months. A year ago, unemployment was 10.5 percent.

The national jobless rate is 9.2 percent.

Seasonally adjusted employment, which economists consider the most accurate barometer of the jobs picture, declined by 9,500 to 3.87 million.

The loss of government jobs more than offset an increase of 4,400 in leisure and hospitality jobs.

The number of people unemployed seeking work or receiving jobless benefits surged by 9,516 to 446,377, the ESC said.

Private sector jobs have increased 24,100 so far this year and are up 28,900 from June 2010.

Government jobs have declined by 31,600 in the past year. That 4.4 percent decline is by far the largest in jobs categories as tracked by the ESC. The largest losses in the private sector have taken place in construction at 6,800.

Biggest private sector job sector increases over the past year have taken place in professional and business services (12,000) and leisure and hospitality services (8,900).