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New county-wide unemployment rate data from the N.C. Department of Commerce released this week showed a month-to-month decrease in joblessness across all of the 18 westernmost counties of North Carolina.
And in the Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which is made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, unemployment reached just 4.5 percent. That is the lowest rate posted across all of the state’s 14 metro areas.
Only three North Carolina counties posted unemployment above 10 percent. One of those counties — Graham County — is located in Western North Carolina. That county, with unemployment reaching 10.6 percent, held the second-highest unemployment rate in the state. It also was the highest unemployment rate among the 18 mountain counties.
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Still, with the statewide unemployment rate for the month at 6 percent, most of the region had higher-than-average unemployment.
Joblessness in 10 of the 18 WNC counties reached above that statewide average. Eight were below, including Polk County. Polk’s rate — at 4.2 percent — was the lowest in the mountain region and the second-lowest statewide.