State News

N.C. jobless rate increases to record 11.2 percent

Posted March 26, 2010 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2010 3:05 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina’s unemployment rate set another unwanted record in February.

The state’s jobless rate increased to 11.2 percent from the previous record of 11.1 percent set in January.

Data released by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission on Friday showed a drop of 2,800 non-farm jobs last month. That is a seasonably adjusted figure, which economists consider a more reliable measure of the employment landscape.

Further affecting the jobless picture was the return of more than 11,000 people to the work force who were seeking jobs. Some 2,800 did find work.

People who aren’t working and have stopped looking for work are not counted in unemployment rates. When they start seeking jobs again, they are counted.

“Our data shows how difficult economic recovery can be,” said ESC Chairman Lynn Holmes in a statement. “We are seeing an increased re-engagement into the state’s labor force with a gain of over 11,000 people in February. While we remain cautious, this could be a sign that more people are re-entering the labor force because they believe more work is available.

“It’s going to take many consecutive months of job gains to get employment levels back up,” she added.

The seasonably adjusted workforce numbers are based on surveys of businesses.

Non-farm jobs totaled nearly 3.9 million in February. That’s down more than 94,000 from a year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate in February was 9.7 percent.

North Carolina’s jobless rate reached 11 percent in June and July of last year, decreased slightly to 10.9 percent for the next five months, then worsened again in January.

According to ESC data, some 2,600 education and health services jobs were added in February. However, those were offset by the loss of 2,400 construction jobs.