Today the North Carolina Department of Commerce released September county-level unemployment data for the state, revealing a decrease in unemployment rates for 99 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Only Warren County saw an increase in its unemployment rate.
This comes after nearly all counties experienced increases in unemployment last month. Additionally, last month saw the second consecutive increase in seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment, an increase high enough to surpass the national average of 3.5%.
Since last year, all metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas in North Carolina have experienced decreases in unemployment.
Orange county boasts the lowest unemployment rate of 2.6% in September, while Warren County has the highest rate of 7.6%.
This data is not seasonally adjusted, however, and therefore is subject to volatile, seasonal changes. For example, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September is 3.6%, while the non-seasonally adjusted rate is a much lower 3.3%.
According to the release, “Since September 2021, the number of workers employed statewide increased 174,474, while those unemployed decreased 35,405.”
Yet the seasonally adjusted labor force participation rate is smaller than pre-pandemic levels by roughly 59,000 people as more people have exited the workforce altogether.
Comparing unemployment data alone from today to pre-pandemic levels, however, shows what appears to be a significant improvement from pre-pandemic local rates:
The data today shows lower rates overall, a positive indicator.
Yet with a smaller amount of people working, even as North Carolina’s population grows, this data does not provide the whole picture. Nationally, there are 4 million more jobs open than there are unemployed workers according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In North Carolina, we have 73 unemployed workers for every 100 open jobs. With roaring inflation and indicators of a greater recession, the worry is that workers will not be in high demand for very long.