Despite adding about 900 jobs, the Asheville metropolitan area saw unemployment rise in August, according to figures from the state Employment Security Commission, possibly due to formerly discouraged workers once again looking for a job. Both Buncombe County and the Asheville area saw unemployment rise from 8 percent to 8.4 percent.
While unemployment in the Asheville area — made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Madison and Henderson counties — declined in July, the area actually lost jobs, especially in the public sector. Since unemployment is based on the number of people actively looking for work, but who can’t find it, discouraged workers giving up can actually reduce the unemployment rate. Similarly, if the area is gaining jobs, people who’d given up on finding one may begin searching again, raising the unemployment rate.
However, the numbers are not adjusted to reflect seasonal job growth or loss: a major factor in the tourism-heavy Asheville area.
In August, the government sector in the Asheville area added 1,300 jobs, while the professional and business services field added another 600. However, the leisure and hospitality sector lost 700 jobs, and trade, transport and utilities lost 400. In total, the area added 900 jobs according to the SEC’s figures.
The Asheville area’s unemployment remains among the lowest of the state’s metropolitan areas: only Durham-Chapel Hill has lower unemployment.