Uneven job growth, unemployment up across North Carolina counties

Unemployment rose in 84 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in June, according to new figures released Friday by the state Division of Employment Security.

While the number of people employed increased by 12,294 last month (not seasonally adjusted), those gains were erased by an increase in those who were unemployed (22,088.)

Another concern for those who watch the state’s employment outlook closely is where the jobs are and aren’t being created.

88% of the 1.5 million jobs created in North Carolina since June 2009 were generated in the state’s metro areas. And 83% of the jobs created in the metro areas were concentrated in just three regions, underscoring North Carolina’s uneven recovery.

“While our short-term labor market trends are certainly troubling, the longer-term concern for North Carolina is the wide disparities in job growth across the state,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the N.C. Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “Since the end of the Great Recession three years ago, the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte have experienced significantly better job growth than the rest of the state. Perhaps even more importantly, the metros in these three regions alone account for 83% of the state’s metro-area job growth.”

South by North Strategies sums up the state’s jobs picture this way:

“Local unemployment rates fell across much of North Carolina over the past year, yet local labor markets remain distressed,”  said John Quinterno with South by North Strategies, a research firm specializing in economic policy. “Unemployment rates remain elevated, and nearly 500,000 North Carolinians are unemployed. For North Carolinians who want and need jobs, conditions simply are not improving fast enough.”

One bright spot in the latest data is that compared to June 2011, unemployment rates were lower in 91 counties and in all 14 metro areas.

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