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

Data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce Tuesday showed that more than half of the state’s 18 westernmost counties saw unemployment rise in June, with eight of those counties’ jobless rates resting in the double-digits.

The department’s figures show 44 of the state’s 100 counties with more than 10 percent unemployment. Those counties included the Western North Carolina counties of Avery, Cherokee, Graham, McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford, Swain and Yancey. With a rate of 15.2 percent, Graham County held the highest unemployment rate in the region for the month.

The lowest unemployment rates in the region for the month were found in Henderson County, at 6.6 percent, and Polk County, at 6.9 percent. The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which encompasses Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, posted the lowest rate of the state’s 14 MSAs. Its rate was 7.1 percent, which is .8 percent lower than the year before.

But rates rose between May and June in most of the region’s counties. The highest increase — of more than 1 percent — was in Yancey County. Unemployment also rose in Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Henderson, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford and Watauga counties.

When compared to June’s statewide rate, which was 9.3 percent and not seasonally adjusted, the region fell squarely in the middle. Nine counties were below and nine were above the statewide unemployment figure.

And nearly all 18 counties’ unemployment rates are better than those found here in June 2012. The exceptions are in Mitchell County — where June’s rate of 12.5 percent is .5 percent higher than that of June 2012. The other is in Yancey County. It’s June rate of 11.3 percent is the same as it was a year ago.

Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
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

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