North Carolina’s jobless rate fell slightly in February to 5.5 percent after remaining unchanged for the previous four months.
The rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point from 5.6 in January, according to seasonally adjusted data released Thursday by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the N.C. Department of Commerce. North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains above the national rate of 4.9 percent.
The state lost 900 jobs in February after recording an outsized gain of 21,100 jobs in January. (The previously reported 23,200 gain in January was revised down last month.)
In a research note, Wells Fargo Securities economist Mark Vitner wrote that jobs data at the beginning of the year is typically “subject to huge seasonal variation and the seasonal adjustment process appears to have amplified rather than reduce ... the volatility this year.”
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A better measurement of the health of the state’s labor market, Vitner said, is comparing the past 12 months of data. North Carolina has gained 86,700 jobs over the past 12 months, an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent.
The strongest job growth in February was in professional and business services, which added 4,200 jobs. Three sectors – education and health services, construction and financial activities – lost more than 1,000 jobs each.
The number of people employed in the state increased by 25,687 over the month, and has now grown by 103,145 over the past year. The labor force, which includes those employed and looking for work, also increased by 25,523 over the month.