The Triangle’s unemployment rate rose in June for the second consecutive month.
The region’s unemployment rate in June was 5.1 percent, up a notch from 5 percent in May, according to data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce and seasonally adjusted by Wells Fargo. The Triangle’s unemployment rate also stood at 5 percent in June 2014.
Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said the Triangle has been adding jobs at roughly twice the national pace, but that progress isn’t showing up in the unemployment data.
“We’re pulling job seekers from the rest of the country,” Vitner said. “It’s hard to reduce the unemployment rate when you have so many job seekers coming in looking for jobs.”
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Still, Vitner said the Triangle’s unemployment could fall three-tenths of a percentage point in the second half of the year as hiring accelerates.
“That would mean we wouldn’t see it fall every single month,” Vitner said.
The Triangle added 1,900 jobs in June. So far this year, it has added 6,500 jobs.
“Hiring is strong,” Vitner said. “More and more businesses are hiring workers.”
In the second half of the year Vitner projects that consumers, who benefit from the stronger dollar and lower energy prices, will drive growth.
“Home sales and construction should be stronger,” he said. “Things tied to residential construction (such as) financial services and insurance should do better.”
The Triangle is still faring better than the state as a whole. North Carolina’s unemployment rose in June to 5.8 percent, the fourth consecutive month that the rate has risen.
John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, a Chapel Hill firm specializing in economic and social policy, noted that although the local economy has been moving in the right direction, the unemployment remains higher than it was prior to the recession.
The Triangle’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in May 2008 and was below 4 percent in 2007.