Biz: Unemployment rates trend up slightly

Fifty-five North Carolina counties saw an increase in their unemployment rates in October, according to the latest statistics from the state Employment Security Commission. Rates declined in 20 counties and remained the same in 25.

Results were mixed locally: Buncombe and Haywood counties’s rates remained at 3.5 percent, while Madison County saw a tiny unemployment increase from 3.5 to 3.6 percent. Henderson County fared the worst, with a nearly one percent rise from 3.4 percent in September to 4.3 percent in October. In the Asheville MSA, which constitutes all four counties, the cumulative unemployment rate rose slightly from 3.5 to 3.7 percent.

“Unemployment rates varied across North Carolina in October,” said ESC Chairman Harry E. Payne Jr. in a release. “Since January, however, 85 counties have lower unemployment rates. Since January, we see that employment (not-seasonally adjusted) has increased by 82,390 workers. North Carolina businesses continue to add workers and new job announcements give us hope that this growth will continue.”

Eight metropolitan statistical areas, including Asheville, experienced rate increases and six remained the same. Forty-six counties were at or below the state’s unadjusted rate of 4.6 percent.

Total county employment (not-seasonally adjusted) in October decreased by 2,235 workers from 4,335,900 to 4,333,665. Not-seasonally adjusted unemployment increased by 4,336 workers. The unemployment total in October was 209,383 compared with 205,047 in September.

Currituck County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, at 2.6 percent, in October. Meanwhile, Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate, at 9.4 percent.

The five counties receiving the highest amount in unemployment insurance benefits in October were: Mecklenburg, $8.2 million; Wake, $5 million; Guilford, $3.9 million; Forsyth, $2.8 million; and Gaston, $2.5 million. In October, $77.2 million in benefits was paid to 83,235 individuals statewide, compared with $67.4 million to 78,380 individuals
in September.

— Hal L. Millard, staff writer

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