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NC jobless rate dips to 6.3 percent in October

Hundreds of engineers turn out for an Engineering job fair held at the McKimmon Center on the N.C. State campus in Raleigh on Sept. 30, 2014. About 370 companies were talking to prospective job seekers.
Hundreds of engineers turn out for an Engineering job fair held at the McKimmon Center on the N.C. State campus in Raleigh on Sept. 30, 2014. About 370 companies were talking to prospective job seekers. cseward@newsobserver.com

North Carolina’s jobless rate dropped to 6.3 percent in October, putting it at nearly its lowest level since the recession ravaged the state six years ago.

October’s jobless rate is down from 6.7 percent in September and down from 7.5 percent a year ago. That put last month’s jobless rate just a shade above the 6.2 percent North Carolina briefly achieved in April.

The state’s rate remains higher than the national average of 5.8 percent.

The Labor and Economic Analysis division, within the N.C. Department of Commerce, issued the data Friday morning.

The data show that all significant trends aligned in October, a rare coincidence. The number of employed people increased, the number of unemployed decreased, total job creation went up and the state’s labor force also expanded.

“In as much as this is a monthly progress report, there is very little to complain about,” said Richard Kaglic, a senior regional economist at the Charlotte Branch of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank.

In past months, even as the jobless rate crept down, job creation and the labor force trends were moving in the reverse direction.

However, in October, there were 17,508 more people employed and 17,200 jobs added in North Carolina. These two numbers come from different surveys and don’t always agree.

The biggest gains were in education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government.

“You see job gains in virtually every segment,” Kaglic said.

Since January, North Carolina has gained 91,700 jobs. The state appears to be on track to create more than 100,000 jobs this year, which would be the first time the state broke that barrier since gaining 129,500 jobs in 2006.

Last year the state gained 77,300 jobs, said Larry Parker, spokesman for the N.C. Division of Employment Security.

East Carolina University economist James Kleckley said that the national and state economies necessarily track each other.

“The biggest single factor for economic development in North Carolina is the economic health of the nation,” Kleckley said. “We don’t live in a world that stops at the North Carolina border. We really are dependent on people buying goods and services produced in this state.”

North Carolina’s labor force increased marginally in October to 4.6 million, which is the number of residents who were looking for work.

The state’s labor force has lost 26,104 people in the past year, a sign that the labor market remains a challenging one for many people.

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