North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose a notch for a fourth consecutive month even though the number of people with jobs expanded yet again.
The N.C. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday that the state’s unemployment rate for December, after seasonal adjustments, inched upward one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.1 percent. That’s one-half a percentage point less than the 5.6 percent unemployment rate in December 2015, but up from 4.6 percent in August – the low point for the year.
The state’s jobless rate also is above the national rate, which was 4.7 percent in December.
Despite the uptick in the state’s unemployment rate, the state added 6,800 jobs during the month. That boosted the number of jobs added in the past four months to nearly 33,000 even as the state’s unemployment rate continues to rise.
That anomaly stems from the steady increase of the labor force, which rose by about 5,800 workers during the month and has expanded by more than 142,400 workers during the past 12 months. The labor force encompasses those who have jobs plus those who are actively seeking work, with the latter tending to rise as people who were so discouraged that they stopped looking for work start looking again.
The jobs gains during the month were led by education and health services, which added 3,000 jobs, and an additional 2,300 jobs in leisure and hospital services.
On the down side, professional and business services jobs declined by 900 and the number of jobs in the government sector fell by 800.
The December unemployment rate for the Triangle is scheduled to be released Feb. 1. In November, the Triangle’s jobless rate was 4.3 percent.