Charlotte is among the strongest regions in the state in employment growth and initial jobless claims, though its unemployment figures remain significantly higher than the national rate, according to an economic outlook released Monday from Wells Fargo & Co.
The Charlotte metro areas total employment in February was about 2 percent higher than February 2011, and initial unemployment claims fell about 11 percent.
The banks economists say Charlottes employment gains will strengthen as population increases start to stabilize the housing market, though the shadow inventory of homes in foreclosure could keep prices falling.
Compared with the state as a whole, Charlotte and other urban areas are expected to expand more rapidly after a disappointing 2011. Raleigh seems to be leaving last years employment slump, along with Asheville. The economists are optimistic that the states economy as a whole is showing signs of strengthening.
In the first three months of 2012, total employment in North Carolina grew at an annual rate of near 3 percent over the same period last year. The state unemployment rate has also dropped, to 9.7 percent from 10.7 percent.
Education and health services have had the strongest employment growth, more than 2 percent, with a particular jump in private education hiring, the economists report.
Manufacturing hiring has also been a bright spot, including at Charlottes new Siemens gas turbine plant and Winston-Salems new Caterpillar plant.
The statewide picture still isnt rosy.
The Triad continues to lag the states other metro areas. Public employment also has stayed flat, and both Charlotte and Greensboro have seen cuts in financial-services industry employment.
North Carolinas fate is also strongly tied to the performance of the overall U.S. economy, which faces risks from the debt crisis in Europe and policy in Congress.
And the economists say the labor forces skills still do not match up with what companies need.