by Paige Terryberry
Senior Analyst for Fiscal Policy, John Locke Foundation
Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) increased in all but two of North Carolina’s counties in June, according to the latest release from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Twenty counties in the state now have unemployment rates above 5%, five more than last month. Similar to last month, all fifteen metropolitan areas experienced increases in unemployment, reversing the trend of the last year.
The highest county unemployment rate is 8.0% in Edgecombe County. Orange and Buncombe Counties each have the lowest rate at 3.3%.
Dare and Hyde counites saw the only improvements in unemployment rates over the month, perhaps due to peak tourism in those coastal counties.
The county unemployment numbers are not seasonally adjusted and the press release from Department of Commerce advises, “It is important to note that employment estimates are subject to large seasonal patterns; therefore, it is advisable to focus on over-the-year changes in the not seasonally adjusted estimates.”
Compared to June 2021, the statewide unemployment remains well below the 5.5% rate registered a year ago, and the total number of workers remains more than 220,000 higher than this time last year.
Even so, the preliminary data show the statewide unemployment rate increased over the month from 3.6% to 4.1%, a dramatic reversal from the past two years of data. Employed workers statewide decreased in June while unemployed workers increased, not seasonally adjusted.
The state has been in recovery mode since the pandemic, with both statewide and local unemployment rates decreasing. This change of direction in local unemployment rates may be significant and the forthcoming state data will inform the overall trends.
Unemployment may be just one barometer of state economic health, but it is perhaps the most important. Having steady employment can enable financial stability for households, reducing uncertainty and the multiple stresses that accompany it.