Charlotte-area jobless rate falls to 5.3 percent in March

Unemployment in the Charlotte region dropped to 5.3 percent in March from 5.5 percent in February as businesses took on even more workers, a sign the local economy continues to strengthen.

Charlotte-area employers added 8,300 jobs in March, with the biggest gains coming in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, data from the North Carolina Commerce Department Wednesday show. Over the year, Charlotte’s joblessness has fallen from 6.3 percent.

Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in March from 5.3 percent in February. At this time last year, the county’s jobless rate was 6.2 percent.

Employment rose in 12 of the state’s 15 metropolitan areas, and the Charlotte area, which includes Concord and Gastonia, had the biggest net employment increase of all.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent in March from 5.3 percent the month prior as tens of thousands of people entered the labor force in search of work. Nationally, the jobless rate in March was 5.5 percent, according to the Labor Department.