The Triangle’s unemployment rate fell a notch in February as the state added more jobs and the labor force declined.
The unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in February, down from January’s revised rate of 4.6 percent, according to data issued Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Commerce and seasonally adjusted by Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte.
The Triangle’s jobless rate remains higher than the the recent low point of 4 percent recorded in July, but well below the statewide average of 5.1 percent.
“The employment picture looks really good,” said Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner. “By and large, we’re continuing to add jobs in most of the important industries throughout the Triangle.”
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The construction sector was bolstered in February by relatively mild weather, which enabled more building activity than normal, Vitner said.
The region added 2,400 nonfarm jobs in February, according to the monthly survey of employers. Over the past 12 months, the Triangle added 23,600 jobs.
Meanwhile, the labor force fell by 1,100 workers. The labor force includes people who are employed as well as those who are actively seeking work.
In 2016 the Triangle added 28,300 nonfarm jobs, up 3.2 percent. This year Vitner projects that the area will add fewer jobs: 24.000.
“We’re closer to full employment,” Vitner said. “When companies are hiring people today, a larger portion of those new hires are coming from the ranks of part-time workers and under-employed workers.”
Since part-time and under-employed workers already have jobs, when they move up to a full-time job or a better-paying job it doesn’t impact the jobless rate.
Vitner forecasts that the Triangle’s unemployment rate will fall a little this year, ending the year “somewhere around 4.2 percent.”