The start of 2013 saw unemployment rise in each of the state’s 100 counties in January, data from the N.C. Division of Employment Security released last week show.

Graham County, one of the 18 westernmost counties in the state, posted the state’s highest unemployment rate for the month, at 20.4 percent. Its neighbor to the east, Swain County, was third highest, at 19 percent. Henderson County had the region’s lowest unemployment rate at 7.9 percent.

Overall, data show that 76 counties in the state had rates of more than 10 percent in January. That included most of the 18 westernmost counties of the state, with the exception of Buncombe, Henderson, Polk and Watauga counties.

Statewide, the not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 10.2 percent.

The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which includes Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, saw its rate increase by .9 percent from December 2012 to January 2013. At 8.4 percent in January, that rate is slightly better than unemployment conditions a year ago.

And when comparing the January 2012 and January 2013 unemployment rates for the region, data show that 11 of the 18 westernmost counties saw unemployment rates worsen. In two — Henderson and Polk — the rates were the same as in January 2012, while five others — Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Madison and McDowell — had slightly lower rates. With an increase of 2.6 percent, Mitchell’s unemployment rate increased the most in the region from January a year ago. Yancey followed with a 1.4 percent increase.

WNC Unemployment January 2013
WNC Unemployment January 2013

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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

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