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NC jobless rate remains at 5.7 percent in November

North Carolina’s jobless rate remained stuck at 5.7 percent in November – and has inched up in the past year – even though the state’s economy is performing well by other measures.

The N.C. Department of Commerce released the seasonally-adjusted employment data Friday.

The state added 11,400 nonfarm jobs in November, and has now added 91,200 jobs over the past 12 months. North Carolina is on pace to add about the same number of jobs in 2015 as the 105,800 it added last year.

Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner predicts that North Carolina will gain between 105,000 and 110,000 jobs in 2015, once the figures are revised in March. But Vitner also noted that job numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“We’re adding more full-time jobs and more jobs are coming from higher-paying industries,” he said.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains above the national rate of 5 percent. Over the past 12 months, the state jobless rate has risen two-tenths of a percent.

An analysis issued Friday by Wells Fargo Securities said the increase in the state’s jobless rate this year is hard to explain, considering the economic gains North Carolina has made in key areas. But the pattern has been repeated in many neighboring states, the bank said.

The analysis noted that North Carolina’s job gains in the past year have been broad, coming from the technology sector, financial services and construction.

The number of employed people in North Carolina grew by 15,466 in November, while the number of unemployed fell by 2,015 during the month.

Additionally, the state’s labor force grew by 13,451 people in November and by nearly 150,000 people in the past 12 months. The labor force includes people who are employed and also those looking for work, and its expansion will cause the jobless rate to rise unless the economy can expand to accommodate the growth in job seekers.

Still, North Carolina’s recent gains haven’t made up for all the jobs the state lost during the recession, said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, a Chapel Hill research firm.

North Carolina has added just 111,000 net new jobs since the beginning of the national recession in December 2007 when you factor in the 326,800 jobs lost during the recession, Quinterno said.

“There were some good dynamics at work” last month, he said. “But I wouldn’t take a victory lap.”

John Murawski: 919-829-8932, @johnmurawski

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