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Mecklenburg County unemployment rate drops in February

Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent in February from 9.7 percent the same month last year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

In the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill area, the rate dropped to 9.4 percent in February from 10 percent in February 2012. Over the same period, the Charlotte metro area had the largest net employment increase of any metro area in the state, with 21,600 jobs added.

Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wells Fargo, said Wednesday that he’s seeing a “broadening economic recovery” taking place in the Charlotte region. He said he was not surprised by the February declines in Charlotte-area unemployment.

“The Charlotte-area economy has improved considerably over the last year, and we’ve seen it in virtually every industry,” he said. “In Mecklenburg County, the unemployment rate has come down quite a bit.”

The latest figures put the Charlotte metro area and Mecklenburg County below the state’s nonseasonally adjusted February rate of 9.5 percent. In January, Mecklenburg’s jobless rate was 9.6 percent.

One sector expected to see growth in Charlotte this year is professional business services, he said.

Year over year, the only sector to log job losses in the Charlotte region was financial activities, which had a decline of 700 jobs, a 1 percent drop, in February. The decrease came after financial activities employment fell by 800 jobs, or 1.1 percent, in January from the same month a year ago.

The Charlotte area is experiencing strong population growth, Vitner said, and the rise in residents has an effect on unemployment rates.

“We have to add a lot of jobs just to keep the unemployment rate in place,” he said.

Unemployment rates decreased in all but one of the state’s counties from January to February: Rockingham County’s rate rose 0.3 percent in the monthly comparison.

The rates dropped in all 14 of the state’s metro areas from January to February.

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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