The Asheville metropolitan area gained 2,400 jobs in May, but unemployment ticked slightly upward, rising from 7.4 to 7.6 percent, according to figures from the state’s Labor and Economic Analysis division.
The jobs gains for the metro area — comprising Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, and Madison counties — come across a variety of sectors. Gains in leisure/hospitality and education/health sectors were particularly strong, but government, business, and manufacturing also showed sizable increases. No sectors lost jobs in May.
While unemployment increasing in a month of jobs growth may seem counterintuitive, unemployment can go up as an economy thaws. As unemployment figures don’t count people without jobs who are no longer looking for work, they can rise as the unemployed begin actively seeking employment again.
The Asheville area still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, only the Durham/Chapel Hill area is lower. Henderson County (7.1 percent unemployment) and Buncombe County (7.5 percent) also have among the lowest county rates. The jobs figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal shifts in employment.