NC employers shed thousands of jobs in February; unemployment rate dips
North Carolina's unemployment rate fell again in February, but employers in the state continued to shed jobs, according to data released Friday by the state Department of Commerce.Posted — Updated
A survey calculating nonfarm payrolls recorded 11,300 fewer jobs in the month after a decline of more than 7,000 jobs in January.
Despite the drop in jobs, the state's unemployment rate dipped to 6.4 percent, marking the eighth straight month of steady decline. North Carolina's unemployment rate is down 2.2 percentage points from February 2013 and is now better than the national unemployment rate, which was 6.7 percent last month.
The state's labor force in February was 4,659,236, down 7,349 since January. The labor force is down more than 60,000 since February 2013, evidence of many people, some of them the long-term unemployed, are dropping out of the job market and are no longer counted in the unemployment rate calculation.
“If North Carolina is going to see a healthy long-term recovery in employment growth, we need to see all jobless workers moving into jobs, rather than out of the labor force. And we’re not seeing that because job creation remains anemic,” said Allan Freyer, an analyst with the NC Justice Center.
The number of people unemployed – those who are looking for jobs – fell sharply, from 310,974 in January to 296,226 in February.
Only three nonfarm sectors saw growth in February. Trade, transportation and utilities, manufacturing and financial services added about 4,600 positions. Job losses were reported by education and health services, construction, professional and business services, other services, leisure and hospitality services, government and mining and logging sectors.
Average hourly earnings for manufacturing production workers fell 44 cents in February to $16.35 an hour. Average weekly hours were down nearly two hours, and average weekly earnings dropped nearly $50 to $649.10.
The food industry remains North Carolina's leading sector in manufacturing employment at 51,300.
Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that he's pleased to see more people getting back to work.
"The job is far from finished. While I am encouraged by the continued progress we have made over such a short period of time, we will remain focused on pro-jobs policies that help people get back to work and position North Carolina for a strong and steady comeback over the long-term," he said in a statement.
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