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Charlotte area’s unemployment rate rises to 5.7 percent

The Charlotte-area unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent in January from 5.1 percent in December, the North Carolina Commerce Department reported Friday. A year ago, Charlotte’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

Over the month, Charlotte, the state’s largest metro area, also had the biggest drop in its employment level of any other metro area in the state, the report showed. From December to January, Charlotte saw a net decrease in employment of 21,300. From November to December, the metro area’s employment level dropped by 700.

“I think it is all seasonal. The Charlotte area added 33,500 jobs over the past year, and that is the more important number,” Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner wrote in an email to the Observer. “Month-to-month changes in January tend to be large, as holiday hiring is unwound and construction slows due to weather.”

In January, the Mecklenburg County unemployment rate rose to 5.5 percent from 4.9 percent in December. Earlier this week the North Carolina Commerce Department also reported that North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in January, unchanged from the prior month.

Nationally, the jobless rate in January was 5.7 percent, the Labor Department reported last month. In February, the latest month for which data is available, the national jobless rate fell to 5.5 percent, though the rate of those participating in the labor force also fell.

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