Charlotte-area jobless rate rises to 5.3 percent in January

The Charlotte-area jobless rate rose in January as every industry reported job losses. Economists say, however, that month-over-month swings in January are common after the seasonal hiring over the holidays.

The region’s jobless rate rose to 5.3 percent in January from 4.9 percent in December, the N.C. Commerce Department said in a report Friday. The area’s unemployment rate a year ago was 5.7 percent.

Employment in the Charlotte metro fell by 21,500 non-farm jobs over the month, led by the biggest decrease in trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 8,800. The professional and business services sector lost 3,300 jobs, and both government and leisure and hospitality lost 3,000.

“We expect employment to fall off seasonally because a lot of jobs are created around the holiday season that disappear the following month. It’s not unusual to have a decline in payroll employment over the month,” said Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond senior economist Rick Kaglic, who is based in Charlotte.

A better indication of the health of the area’s labor market is the year-over-year data, Kaglic said.

Over the last year, employers in the Charlotte region, which includes Concord and Gastonia, have added 30,600 jobs. That translates to 2.8 percent job growth, much faster than the national rate, which is less than 2 percent.

The N.C. unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in January, the Commerce Department reported earlier this week. The jobless rate nationally was 4.9 percent in February, the most recent month for which data are available, the U.S. Labor Department said earlier this month.

Across North Carolina, unemployment rates increased in each of the 100 counties, the Commerce Department reported. In Mecklenburg County, the unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in January from 4.8 percent. Here are the rates in some surrounding counties:

▪ Cabarrus County’s rate rose to 5 percent from 4.7 percent.

▪ Gaston County’s rate rose to 5.8 percent from 5.3 percent.

▪ Iredell County’s rate rose to 5.4 percent from 4.9 percent.

▪ Lincoln County’s rate rose to 5.5 percent from 4.9 percent.

▪ Union County’s rate rose to 4.8 percent from 4.4 percent.