Unemployment rose in North Carolina in July as the labor force shrank and the number of unemployed workers rose.
The state jobless figure rose for a fifth straight month to 5.9 percent in July from 5.8 percent in June, the N.C. Commerce Department said in a report Friday.
North Carolina added 20,600 jobs last month from June, according to a monthly survey. In June, the state lost 3,100, mostly because of a big drop in government employment.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond senior economist Rick Kaglic, based in Charlotte, cautions against reading too far into one month’s worth of data, which can be volatile. Instead, he advises looking at year-over-year figures.
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Over the last year, North Carolina added 110,200 jobs, led by the strongest gains in trade, transportation and utilities, as well as in business and professional services.
South Carolina officials said in a separate report that the unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent in July from 6.6 percent in June. The current national rate is 5.3 percent.
“The appetite for new employees in the Carolinas remains voracious, and employers are having a difficult time satisfying it,” Kaglic told reporters in a call Friday.
From June to July, the North Carolina labor force shrank 0.2 percent as the number of unemployed workers rose 1.2 percent and the number of employed workers declined 0.3 percent.
Government employment fell by 2,400, or by 0.3 percent, over the year. Over the last few years, North Carolina has had a steady decline in government employment as governments struggle to make their budgets work, and as revenue growth slows but spending keeps climbing, Kaglic said.
“I wouldn’t be concerned about that (0.3 percent decline) from a macroeconomic perspective,” Kaglic said. “But if I were a government worker who lost my job I would certainly be concerned.”