Among 18 WNC counties, only Swain’s rate increases

Click to view full-size image. Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

In what could be considered a turnaround from recent trends in unemployment rates for the state’s 18 westernmost counties, joblessness in Western North Carolina seemed to ease up in August, new data show.

Considering just the amount of counties posting a decrease in unemployment, the newest numbers from the N.C. Department of Commerce showed that unemployment fell in 15 of the region’s counties between July and August. It remained unchanged in Cherokee and Haywood counties. Only Swain County posted an increase, of 0.8 percent. That rate remained the same as it was a year ago. The latest rates were released on Friday.

According to the department release, rates fell in 72 of the state’s 100 counties and in 13 of the state’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

The Asheville MSA, which encompasses Madison, Buncombe, Henderson and Haywood counties, had the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 7.7 percent, which was slightly below Durham-Chapel Hill, which was at 7.6 percent.

Still, when compared to each other and to the state’s rate — at 9.7 percent — the numbers cast a more somber note.

The region is nearly evenly split above and below the state’s average, with eight falling below and eight above. Two — Macon and Transylvania counties — had rates matching the state’s.

Also, Graham County’s rate was the highest in the region — at 14.8 percent — and second-highest in the state. That’s double the region’s lowest rate, which was found in Henderson County, at 7.4 percent.

Click to view full-size image. Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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