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NC jobless rate rises to 5.5 percent as labor force grows

North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose in April as improved economic conditions statewide continue to encourage people to rejoin the labor force to look for and find jobs.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose in April as improved economic conditions statewide continue to encourage people to rejoin the labor force to look for and find jobs.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose to 5.5 percent in April from 5.4 percent in March, the N.C. Commerce Department reported Wednesday, as improved economic conditions statewide continue to encourage people to rejoin the labor force to look for jobs.

The statewide jobless rate has fallen by almost 1 percentage point since April 2014. It’s now slightly higher than the national jobless rate, which was 5.4 percent in April, the Labor Department reported earlier this month.

The civilian labor force, which includes nonmilitary North Carolina residents either working or actively looking for a job, increased by 33,169, or 0.7 percent, to 4,741,872 from March to April.

As the labor force grows, it can push the unemployment rate up since the unemployment rate counts the share of people in the labor force looking for work.

Rick Kaglic, a Charlotte-based senior regional economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said over the last year, Charlotte’s labor force growth (2.4 percent year over year) has been impressive compared with the national average (1.1 percent year over year.)

“That means as firms decide to expand here or relocate here, they know they’re going to have a growing pool of labor available to them,” Kaglic said in a call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Industries where employment grew the most last month were government, which added 3,900 jobs, and leisure and hospitality services, which took on an additional 3,100 jobs. Construction, which added 1,900 jobs, is also experiencing healthier growth statewide as the housing market picks up, Kaglic said.

The Charlotte metro area’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in March, the most recent month for which data is available. The state Commerce Department will release Charlotte-area and other local unemployment figures next week.

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S.C. jobless rate unchanged at 6.7%

There was no change in South Carolina’s unemployment rate last month.

The Department of Employment and Workforce said Wednesday that the state’s jobless figure for April stayed at 6.7 percent.

That’s the same as March’s rate, which was the first time the state’s unemployment inched upward in several months.

Workforce officials say that overall employment in South Carolina set a record last month, at more than 2.1 million people. The state’s labor force also hit a record high at more than 2.2 million. Associated Press

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