New countywide data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce show that, by in large, joblessness fell across the 18 westernmost counties of the state between May and June — arguably the start of tourist season across the mountains.
But for three of those counties, rates remained the same or increased slightly that month. Mitchell County’s rate of 7.6 percent remained the same as in May. Clay and Rutherford counties both posted slight increases of .1 percent. Clay County’s monthly rate for June was 6.5 percent. In Rutherford County, the rate was 8.7 percent.
The Asheville metropolitan statistical area, which is comprised of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, posted the lowest monthly unemployment rate of all 14 MSAs in the state. With a rate of 4.9 percent, unemployment in the Asheville MSA dropped .2 percent from May and 1.7 percent when compared to June 2013.
The statewide unemployment rate for the month was 6.5 percent, which was later revised to 6.4 percent. Considering whether countywide unrevised rates were above or below the state’s, the region’s 18 counties were nearly evenly split. Nine were below, with the lowest rate posted in Polk County, at 4.7 percent. One — Clay County — was the same. The remaining eight were above the state average, with Graham County posting the highest unemployment rate across the region, at 9.8 percent.
The state Department of Commerce also reported in its release on the data that the number of workers employed in North Carolina decreased in June by 26,751 to nearly 4.4 million. Those unemployed decreased by 10,225 to 303,122.
The department also said Monday that the state’s seasonally adjusted July unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, increasing 0.1 of a percentage point from June’s revised rate. The national rate increased 0.1 of a percentage point to 6.2 percent.