North Carolina’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent and was lower than the national average in February as more workers entered the labor force and found jobs, a sign the state economy continues to improve.
The state’s jobless rate was unchanged from January’s revised rate, the state Commerce Department reported Friday.
Over the past year, the state’s jobless rate has fallen 1.2 percentage points. The civilian labor force, which includes nonmilitary, noninstitutionalized North Carolina residents either working or actively looking for a job, increased by 16,800 to 4,221,500 from January to February.
The number of North Carolinians applying for unemployment benefits fell to 18,542 in February, representing a drop of 8,475 from the prior month. Less than 1 percent of initial claims applicants were “attached” to a payroll, meaning they expected to be called back to their jobs.
Last week, the state Commerce Department reported that the Charlotte area unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent in January from 5.1 percent in December as seasonal holiday workers became unemployed and construction activity slowed.
Nationally, the jobless rate in February fell to 5.5 percent, though the rate of those participating in the labor force also fell, the Labor Department reported earlier this month. National figures for March will be released April 4.