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July 2013 unemployment in Western North Carolina. Map courtesy of the N.C. Department of Commerce.

In the most-recent data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce, unemployment appears to have decreased somewhat between June and July for all of the 18 westernmost counties of the state.

Drops in monthly unemployment were highest in Avery, Graham and Mitchell counties. All saw decreases in unemployment of more than 1 percent for the month.

Also, 17 of the 18 counties posted July unemployment rates that were better than those from a year ago. Mitchell County was the only exception. Its rate of 11.5 percent was the same in July 2013 as it was in July 2012.

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Graham County’s monthly unemployment — at 13.7 percent — was highest among Western North Carolina counties. It was among six WNC counties with double-digit unemployment rates for the month. They are Cherokee, Graham, Mitchell, Rutherford, Swain and Yancey counties. The statewide not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July was 9.1 percent.

The region’s lowest unemployment rates for the month were in Henderson (6.4 percent) and Polk (6.5 percent) counties. The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which is comprised of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, had the lowest monthly unemployment among North Carolina’s 14 metro areas. Its rate was 6.8 percent.

Also, year-over-year data show that Asheville has had a 3.1 percent increase in net job numbers. That’s the largest percentage increase among the state’s metro areas. When comparing July 2012 to July 2013, data show that the area had an additional 5,200 jobs, mainly in the trade, transportation and utilities (1,700), leisure and hospitality (1,400) and government (1,200) sectors. For that same time period, it posted job losses in mining, logging and construction (200), manufacturing (200) and other services (100) sectors.

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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 anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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  1. If these are U-3 numbers, they’re generally meaningless. U-6 is a better indicator. Pretty much I ignore the official rates, the U-3, which means that I ignore most of these reports as they are easily spun.