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News State / Region Unemployment up in 76 N.C. counties

Macon County at 13.3 percent for January 2013.

The start of 2013 saw unemployment rise in each of the state’s 100 counties in January, data from the N.C. Division of Employment Security released last week show.

Graham County, one of the 18 westernmost counties in the state, posted the state’s highest unemployment rate for the month, at 20.4 percent. Its neighbor to the east, Swain County, was third highest, at 19 percent. Henderson County had the region’s lowest unemployment rate at 7.9 percent.

Macon County’s unemployment rate was 13.3 percent as compared to 12.7 percent in January 2012.

Overall, data show that 76 counties in the state had rates of more than 10 percent in January. That included most of the 18 westernmost counties of the state, with the exception of Buncombe, Henderson, Polk and Watauga counties.

Statewide, the not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 10.2 percent.

The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which includes Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, saw its rate increase by .9 percent from December 2012 to January 2013. At 8.4 percent in January, that rate is slightly better than unemployment conditions a year ago.

And when comparing the January 2012 and January 2013 unemployment rates for the region, data show that 11 of the 18 westernmost counties saw unemployment rates worsen. In two — Henderson and Polk — the rates were the same as in January 2012, while five others — Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Madison and McDowell — had slightly lower rates. With an increase of 2.6 percent, Mitchell’s unemployment rate increased the most in the region from January a year ago. Yancey followed with a 1.4 percent increase.

Across the nation, nine states reported statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate changes in January, of which seven were increases and two were decreases. The largest of these increases occurred in Illinois and Mississippi (0.4 of a percentage point each). Colorado and Vermont registered the only significant declines over the month (0.2 of a percentage point each). The remaining 41 states and the District of Columbia recorded jobless rates that were not substantially different from those of a month earlier, although some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes.

California and Rhode Island recorded the highest unemployment rates among the states in January at 9.8 percent each. North Dakota again registered the lowest jobless rate, 3.3 percent. In total, 24 states reported jobless rates substantially lower than the U.S. fi gure of 7.9 percent, nine states had significantly higher rates, and 17 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were essentially the same.

Nevada registered the largest jobless rate decline from January 2012 (2.3 percentage points). Seven additional states reported smaller, but also statistically signifi cant decreases over the year. The remaining 42 states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rates that were not much different from those of a year earlier.

Among North Carolina’s neighboring states, unemployment rates in January increased in South Carolina and Tennessee (0.1 of a percentage point); decreased in Kentucky (0.1 of a percentage point); and were unchanged in Georgia and Virginia.

Portions of this article were written by Angie Newsome with the Carolina Public Press, and data taken from North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division’s “NC Today March 2012.”


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