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Countywide unemployment figures for North Carolina showed that joblessness fell in all 100 counties in December 2013 when compared to rates posted the previous December.
Recently released by the N.C. Department of Commerce, the rates track monthly unemployment rates, comparing them to the previous month and the same month the year before. The rates are not seasonally adjusted.
Among the 18 westernmost counties, the December 2013 unemployment rate fell 6.7 percent in Clay County when compared to December 2012. In Graham County, the rate fell 6.3 percent in that same time comparison.
When comparing unemployment to November, however, the decrease in unemployment was less dramatic.
In all, 13 WNC countywide rates were less in December 2013 than November 2013. Two — Haywood and Jackson — remained the same. Three — Graham, Macon and Swain counties — experienced slight increases in unemployment for the month.
For an in-depth analysis from Carolina Public Press about the region’s unemployment, the impact of changes to North Carolina’s long-term unemployment benefits and decreases in the region’s the labor force, read “State unemployment rate hits low, but recovery still elusive.”
And when compared to the statewide unemployment number for the month, which sat at 6.6 percent, most Western North Carolina counties either matched or were higher than that rate. Seven were below the state rate.
Graham County posted the highest unemployment rate for the month — at 12.2 percent. Polk County posted the lowest unemployment rate for the month — at 4.6 percent.
The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which is made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, showed an unemployment rate of 5 percent, slightly below its rate of 5.2 percent in November.
For several months, the Asheville area’s rate was the lowest among the state’s 14 MSAs, but it fell to No. 2 in December, slightly behind the Durham-Chapel Hill area, which had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent for the month.
But when comparing the December Asheville MSA’s labor force to December 2012, there was a slight uptick, according to the state data. Led by increases in the leisure and hospitality and the education and health services sectors, the labor force in the area increased by 1.8 percent. Year-over-year decreases were posted in the government and the mining, logging and construction job sectors. The area has an overall non-farm labor force of 178,000, the report showed.