Local News

N.C. Unemployment Up Slightly Despite Jump In Jobs

Posted October 20, 2006 7:47 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose a bit to 4.9 percent in September, even as the state’s employers added another 10,700 jobs.

The reason for the up-tick from 4.8 percent in July and August is that the state’s work force continues to grow, according to Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University.

“They are good numbers,” Walden said of the job growth and size of the state’s work force. “The focus should not be on unemployment but on the number of people working. We had a very robust increase in jobs.”

The addition of nearly 11,000 jobs was the fourth-highest reported in the country last month, according to federal labor statistics. Only California, Texas and Florida created more jobs.

The 4.9 percent unemployment rate as reported by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission is the highest of the year. The rate was as low as 4.3 percent in January and April.

North Carolina’s work force increased to a record 4,466,273, up nearly 23,000 from the record set last month. The number of people working also hit a record -– 4,249,229. That total is nearly 19,000 more than the previous high set in August. Seasonally adjusted jobs increased by 10,700.

The number of jobless claims increased by 4,063 in September to 217,494.

The state’s increasing work force, the addition of jobs and the jump in reported unemployment reflect the fact that North Carolina’s economy is going strong, Walden said.

“When the job market improves, people who had given up looking for jobs enter the job market," he said. "Then they are reported as unemployed. We also have people who are moving here from other states … where the economy is not as good.”

North Carolina’s jobless rate is 0.3 percent higher than the national average (4.6 percent), but it still lower than the 5.3 percent rate reported in September of 2005. More than 119,000 people have joined the job rolls over the past year, while unemployment has dropped by more than 15,000.

“Employers continued to add jobs in September,” said Harry Payne Jr., chairman of the state’s Employment Security Commission. “North Carolina’s robust economy continues to give current employers a reason to add more jobs and encourage other employers to move to the state.”