Triangle jobless rate falls to 7.6 percent

dbracken@newsobserver.comNovember 2, 2012 

JOBFAIR1.091112.TI

Amber Shelter, middle, senior operations specialist with Netsertive, talks to Shotaro Fujimoto (cq) at All Things Tech Job Fair in Raleigh Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Fujimoto, recent UNC graduate, was among the hundreds of technology specialists who attended the job fair at Raleigh Convention Center.

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com

— The Triangle jobless rate fell for the second consecutive month in September as the region continued to add jobs faster than most other areas of the country.

The unemployment rate for the area was 7.6 percent in September, down from 7.8 percent in August, according to figures released Friday by the N.C. Department of Commerce and seasonally adjusted by Wells Fargo in Charlotte.

Raleigh’s rate fell from 7.6 percent to 7.4 percent, while Durham’s fell from 7.4 percent to 7.2 percent.

The Triangle’s unemployment rate has now fallen a full percentage point over the past 12 months. The region added 400 jobs in September and has added 19,500 jobs in the past year.

Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said he expects the Triangle to add more than 20,000 jobs this year, with most of them being classified as professional services.

“That’s real strong in the Triangle because that’s where the tech sector is,” he said.

The Triangle’s current annual rate of job growth, about 2.5 percent, continues to make it attractive to both job seekers and investors.

“This area in general has held up much better than many other places in the state, many other places in the country,” said John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, a Chapel Hill firm specializing in economic and social policy. “But good is a relative thing, and our good is still not very good by historical standards.”

Five years ago the Triangle unemployment rate was half where it stands today.

Quinterno said there continues to be a lack of demand in the economy that is preventing many businesses from making the level of investment needed to create jobs and lower the unemployment rate. Many businesses, he said, are holding off investing despite the fact that low interest rates have made it incredibly cheap to borrow money.

“Without any more [demand] coming in we’re going to continue to sort of be on this path,” he said.

Vitner said he expects both the construction and financial services industries to pick up next year. IT spending has tapered off in recent months, he said, which could mean the sector’s growth will slow.

Vitner said one bright spot is that more areas of the economy are now improving, even if the overall growth rate remains disappointing.

“While growth is going to be slower in 2013 the U.S., I feel like it’s going to be more durable because it’s going to be more broadly based,” he said.

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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