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Charlotte’s labor market continues to show improvement

Charlotte skyline, picture shot from off Morehead street on Feb. 4, 2016.
Charlotte skyline, picture shot from off Morehead street on Feb. 4, 2016. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte metro’s jobless rate dropped in March as as area employers took on more workers, a sign the region’s labor market continues to grow stronger.

The unemployment rate in the Charlotte region, which includes Concord and Gastonia, declined to 4.4 percent in March from 4.7 percent in February, according to a report Wednesday from the N.C. Commerce Department. A year ago, the area’s jobless rate was 4.8 percent.

Charlotte employers took on 9,600 more jobs in March, according to the report. The sector with the biggest job gains was professional and business services, which added 3,400. Leisure and hospitality grew by 2,100. Education and health services declined by 600.

Economists tend to advise against reading too far into one month’s worth of date and instead prefer year-over-year data. Over the last year, the employment level in the Charlotte metro has risen by 34,700, representing a 3.1 percent annualized growth rate.

The report also showed that unemployment rates fell in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in March. Hyde County had the highest jobless rate at 12.3 percent, while Buncombe County had the lowest at 3.7 percent. Mecklenburg County’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in March from 5.1 percent in February, the department reported last month. Nationally, the jobless rate was 4.5 percent in March, down from 4.7 percent. The Labor Department reports the April unemployment rate on Friday.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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