Unemployment up to 5% in Durham-Chapel Hill metro
Unemployment in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area rose slightly from the previous month to 5 percent in March, but was down significantly from last year.
That’s according to preliminary data from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division that was adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in employment.
March’s rate was up compared with February’s 4.9 percent, but it was down significantly compared with March of last year, when the rate was 6.6 percent. And February aside, the rate was down in March to a level not seen since July 2008.
There was a decline of 4,527 unemployed people in the year through March to bring the unemployment total to 13,616, according to the seasonally adjusted data.
The area also saw an increase of 4,708 workers to bring the number of employed people in the area to 259,710. The labor force grew by 181 workers counted as employed or looking for jobs.
Compared with February, there was an increase of 920 employed workers, and the labor force grew by 1,065. However, there was also an increase of 145 unemployed people.
“The good news about this report in particular is that it looks like the labor force actually increased over the last year, which is actually the opposite trends of what we see in the state as a whole,” said Allan Freyer, public policy analyst with the N.C. Justice Center, a Raleigh-based nonprofit.
Freyer also said the metro area is outperforming the state.
“The metro area has seen its unemployment rate fall significantly – faster than the rest of the state,” he said.
Mike Walden, a professor of agricultural and resource economics at N.C. State University, also touted the growth in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area and in the Triangle at large.
“The Triangle area is going to be one of the faster growing (areas) in the state, certainly if not the nation,” he said.
In a separate survey of jobs on the payroll, the data showed that the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area saw a 1.2 percent growth in employment, or added 3,500 employed workers compared with February. In the year, the area saw 2.3 percent growth, or an additional 6,400 employed workers.
The education and health services and leisure and hospitality sectors led the growth in the year and in the month through March.
Within the metro area, Chatham County had the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 4.7 percent, followed by Orange at 4.8 percent, Durham at 5.3 percent, and Person at 6.7 percent. That’s according to data that was seasonally adjusted by the East Carolina University Bureau of Business Research.