Durham County unemployment ticks upward

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 03:43 PM

Unemployment in Durham County increased in May compared with April, but one expert said a one-month uptick shouldn’t be a surprise, and unemployment should continue to drop over time.

The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in May, up from 6.9 percent in April. The county’s rate was down, however, compared with the rate of 7.6 percent seen in May of last year.

That’s according to preliminary data from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division, seasonally adjusted by the East Carolina University Bureau of Business Research.

It shouldn’t be surprising if one month “gets a little worse,” said James Kleckley, director of the bureau, in an email. He expects unemployment to gradually decline over time.

“We would get more concerned if the trend in the rate (is) consistently going the ‘wrong’ way,” he said.

Along with Durham County, unemployment also increased month-over-month in May in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area, which also includes Orange, Chatham and Person counties, according to the seasonally adjusted data from ECU’s Bureau of Business Research.

The metro area’s seasonally adjusted rate was 6.9 percent in May, up from 6.7 percent in April. However, the rate was down from May of last year’s rate of 7.4 percent.

Employment in the metro area fell by 693 workers in May compared with April to a total of 257,520 workers, according to the bureau’s data, while it increased by 3,950 compared with May of 2012.

The number of people unemployed in the month increased by 721 compared with April for a total of 19,118 people unemployed in May, while the number fell by 1,131 compared with the same month last year.

Orange County’s seasonally adjusted rate was 6 percent in May, the lowest in the state, followed by Chatham, which had a rate of 6.3 percent. Durham County’s rate was No. 8 at 7.1 percent and Person County’s rate was No. 51 at 9.8 percent.