February 2013 unemployment across Western North Carolina. Map courtesy of the N.C. Department of Commerce.

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Majority of WNC counties still post double-digit unemployment

Job seekers across Western North Carolina may have found a measure of relief in February, new data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce on Wednesday suggested.

The countywide unemployment figures for February showed that rates fell for the month in all of the 18 westernmost counties of the state. Madison County posted the largest improvement, with its February unemployment rate settling at 8.4 percent. That’s also more than 2 percent lower than its unemployment rate from February 2012.

But despite the decreases, the majority of the region still had unemployment conditions worse than the statewide rate of 9.5 percent, which is not seasonally adjusted.

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Graham County remained the county with the highest unemployment rate in the state. At 20.2 percent, its February unemployment rate was more than double the statewide rate. It’s the only county in the state to post an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent.

However, Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Polk and Watauga counties had rates lower than the statewide rate. The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which is made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, remains a regional bright spot in terms of employment, with a 7.8 percent unemployment rate. That rate was the third-lowest among the state’s 14 MSAs and rested just behind the Durham-Chapel Hill and Raleigh-Cary areas.

Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

Angie Newsome

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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