Mecklenburg’s July jobless rate falls to 7 percent

The Charlotte area’s July unemployment rate fell 1.7 percentage points lower than it was a year earlier, an improvement powered by thousands of new jobs in the region.

Figures out Wednesday from the N.C. Department of Commerce put the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, S.C., region’s unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, compared to 8.5 percent in July 2013.

The statistics showed the Charlotte metropolitan area has enjoyed North Carolina’s biggest net employment increase over the past year, with 25,800 jobs added, a 3 percent gain.

The professional and business services sector, which has been gaining strength, added 9,800 jobs over the past year, a 6.8 percent gain. Trade, transportation and utilities added 7,100, a 3.9 percent gain. Mining, logging and construction added 3,500, an increase of 8.4 percent.

The area’s July jobless rate did represent a slight uptick from June’s rate of 6.5 percent. But UNC Charlotte economist John Connaughton said that was due to formerly discouraged people returning to the job search scene.

“They’re now jumping back in because the labor market is improving,” he said.

All 14 of the state’s metropolitan regions saw their jobless rates decline over the year.