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

But compared to 2011, joblessness is down overall

In what could be seen as a turnaround from October’s more optimistic unemployment numbers, November turned a bit sour for job hunters across Western North Carolina.

According to new data released today by the N.C. Department of Commerce, countywide unemployment grew in 16 of the 18 westernmost counties between October and November.

For the month, Graham County posted the highest unemployment rate in the state, at 16.3 percent, which is more than double the statewide unemployment rate of 9 percent. Only Cherokee County saw a decrease in its unemployment rate, from 13 percent to 12.3 percent. Buncombe’s rate, at 6.8 percent, stayed the same between the two months.

Twelve of the 18 counties had rates above the statewide average, and nine had rates reaching more than 10 percent.

Unemployment rose in 11 of the state’s 14 metropolitan statistical areas — including the Asheville MSA, which is made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties. Its rate rose slightly from 6.8 to 7.1 percent in November. It, however, posted the second-lowest unemployment rate among all the MSAs.

But when compared to November 2011, the picture seems brighter. The rates in all but one county — Mitchell County — fell when compared to the unemployment levels reached that month more than a year ago.

And when looking at the Asheville MSA, the sheer number of people employed in the four-county area rose by 5,128 from November 2011 to November 2012, according to department spokesman Larry Parker.

Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
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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