November 2013 countywide unemployment rates. Map via the N.C. Department of Commerce.

The N.C. Department of Commerce released data this week showing Western North Carolina’s job environment can, at times, mirror the peaks and valleys of the mountains that help define our region.

The monthly analysis of countywide unemployment rates showed that, on one hand, November’s unemployment largely lessened across most of the region compared to the month before.

And considering data from November 2012, the picture may be even better. Over-the-year data show that unemployment lessened by 4.5 percent in Graham County compared to November 2012 — which is the largest over-the-year drop among the state’s 100 counties.

Still, Graham County’s unemployment — at 11.8 percent in November — was one of six NC counties whose rates remain in the double digits. That was the third-highest rate in the state and the highest among the 18 westernmost counties.

At the same time, Polk County’s unemployment was the third lowest, at 4.9 percent in November. That was also the lowest rate in the region.

The state’s not-seasonally adjusted rate for the month was 6.9 percent. The region was evenly split, with nine counties above the statewide rate and nine below.

When looking at the state’s metropolitan statistical areas, the Asheville area’s unemployment rates was the best in the state in November, the data showed. Among the state’s 14 metropolitan statistical areas, Asheville’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent compared to 7.2 percent in November 2012. The Asheville metropolitan statistical area is made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.

The total non-farm labor force for the area was 177,500 for the month, the department reported. That was 400 less than the month before. It was also 2,600 more than in November 2012.

See below for a county-by-county listing of unemployment rates across Western North Carolina.

Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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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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