Charlotte area’s jobless rate lowest since May 2008

The Charlotte area’s jobless rate dipped to 6.2 percent in September, its lowest level since the post-recession recovery began, new government figures show.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill area’s unemployment rate last month marks a steep decline from September 2013, when it stood at 7.4 percent.

The latest figure represents the region’s lowest unemployment rate since May 2008, when the worst of the recession and economic meltdown was beginning to grip the region and nation.

The professional and business services sector continued to show strong growth in September, adding 8,700 jobs over the year, a nearly 6 percent gain. Trade, transportation and utilities added 6,500 jobs, or 3.6 percent.

The sector that includes construction added 2,500 positions over the year, a 6 percent gain. Even manufacturing, a sector that has lost thousands of jobs across North Carolina in recent decades, added 2,900 positions, a 4 percent gain.

Over the year, the Charlotte region has added 22,400 positions, the largest net employment increase of any metropolitan area in the state. The Raleigh-Cary area added 17,600 jobs.

While the jobs picture in Charlotte and most other urban areas of the state continues improving, it doesn’t look as encouraging in rural areas, said John Quinterno, head of the Chapel Hill-based South by North Strategies research firm.

The firm said 34 North Carolina counties and four metro areas still have higher unemployment rates now than they had before the recession, in September 2008.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to lag behind metropolitan ones,” he said. “The (unemployment rate) declines do not alter the fact that unemployment remains a serious problem.”