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Recent county employment snapshots released by the N.C. Department of Commerce show some notable changes in unemployment across the North Carolina mountains in August.
According to the state’s figures, four of the 18 westernmost counties of the state posted double-digit unemployment for the month. Those counties are Cherokee, Graham, Mitchell and Rutherford, whose rates ranged between 10.5 percent in Mitchell County to 12.3 percent in Graham County. Ten of the 18 counties had rates below the statewide average, which was 8.3 percent for August.
That’s a marked difference from previous months, when, for example, eight WNC counties posted unemployment of more than 10 percent in June. State figures also show there were eight counties in the region with more than 10 percent unemployment a year ago, in August 2012.
Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties posted the lowest August unemployment rates in the region. All were at 6.2 percent.
The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which is comprised of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, had the lowest unemployment rate among the state’s 14 metro areas.
State figures also showed that total non-farm employment grew in the metro area in August. There was an increase of 1,400 jobs for the month, largely attributable to an increase in government jobs that made up for losses in leisure and hospitality and trade, transportation and utilities sectors.
And when compared to a year ago, the metro area has seen an increase of more than 3,000 jobs. But the sectors with the largest increases — trade, transportation and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and education and health serves — this time make up for area losses in government jobs, which saw a decrease of 1,100.