Unemployment increased in 99 of North Carolina’s 100 counties last month according to the latest release from the state’s Department of Commerce. 

These rates are not seasonally adjusted and are subject to large seasonal patterns. Even so, the state and nation are bucking their trends of recovery from the pandemic and lockdown-induced economic downturn. Since July, North Carolina’s state unemployment rate has steadily climbed, reaching 3.8% last month. 

The local jobs report, released today, shows unemployment rates within North Carolina’s diverse counties. According to the release, “Edgecombe County had the highest unemployment rate at 7.5 percent while Orange County had the lowest at 3.1 percent.” 

Employed workers decreased in October by 2,629 to 4,947,826, while unemployed workers increased by 32,875 to 202,689. 

Because this data is volatile and not seasonally adjusted, it is important to look at long-term trends. Comparing unemployment data alone from today to pre-pandemic levels hardly shows an improvement from pre-pandemic local rates. There are just as many counties with unemployment rates above 5% today as there were before the pandemic.

Moreover, each of the states’ 15 metro areas have higher unemployment today than they did before the pandemic. 

Though our economy recovered well following the spring 2020 spikes in unemployment, the trends appear to be reversing. The new, downward trend is not unique to North Carolina as lackluster national trends are affecting most states.