October 2012 unemployment in Western North Carolina. Image via the N.C. Department of Commerce. Click to view full-size image.

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Joblessness picture notably different from October 2011

It may well have been easier for some job seekers to find new employment in October across Western North Carolina, according to new countywide unemployment rates released today by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Figures from the month show that, among the 18 westernmost counties, monthly unemployment fell in 12 counties between September and October. It remained the same in Clay, Madison and Watauga counties, and it increased in Graham, Jackson and Macon counties during the same time period.

The lowest unemployment rate in the region was in Henderson County, with a rate of 6.5 percent. The highest was in Graham County, which had a rate of 15.1 percent, making it the second-highest countywide unemployment rate in the state. The statewide unemployment rate for October was 8.8 percent.

The Asheville metropolitan statistical area — a region made up of Madison, Buncombe, Henderson and Haywood counties — had an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, down .3 percent from the month before and the second-lowest unemployment rate among the state’s 14 MSAs.

According to information from the department, the boost in total non-farm employment in the Asheville MSA came from 1,100 new jobs, mainly in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. The biggest decreases during the month came in the leisure and hospitality and in the manufacturing sectors.

But compared to unemployment a year ago, in October 2011, all counties saw notable drops in their individual unemployment rate, with McDowell leading the way with a decrease of 2.6 percentage points, from 12.8 percent in October 2011 to 10.2 percent last month. The smallest decrease came in Graham County, which still saw a drop of .4 percent, from 15.5 percent in October 2011 to 15.1 percent last month.

Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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

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