Logo courtesy of the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

While unemployment rates in May declined in 14 of North Carolina’s 17 westernmost counties, Buncombe, Jackson and McDowell counties veered from the trend and experienced increases.

According to data released today by the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, Buncombe County’s unemployment rate last month rose by a 0.1 percentage point to 7.5 percent. Jackson County’s rate rose in May by a 0.4 percentage point to 8.8 percent. McDowell County’s unemployment rate was 12.3 percent, up a 0.1 percentage point from April.

With a rate of 7.1 percent, Polk County had Western North Carolina’s lowest unemployment rate and the fifth-lowest rate statewide in May. Graham County had the highest unemployment rate in WNC and the third-highest in North Carolina last month with a rate of 14.2 percent.

The Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area — which includes Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties — had the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state in May with a rate of 7.7 percent.

North Carolina’s overall unemployment rate, not adjusted for seasonal jobs, was 9.7 percent. The Employment Security Commission said this was a 0.1 percent increase from April’s revised rate of 9.6 percent. The agency said unemployment rates decreased in May in 40 counties, increased in 44 counties and remained the same in 16.

WNC unemployment rates in May, by county

  • Avery: 10.2 percent (down from 11.3 percent in April).
  • Buncombe: 7.5 percent (up from 7.4 percent).
  • Cherokee: 12.3 percent (down from 12.8 percent).
  • Clay: 9.5 percent, (down from 9.6 percent).
  • Graham: 14.2 percent (down from 14.8 percent).
  • Haywood: 9 percent (down from 9.5 percent).
  • Henderson: 7.3 percent (down from 7.6 percent).
  • Jackson: 8.8 percent (up from from 8.4 percent).
  • Macon: 9.9 percent (down from 10.6 percent).
  • Madison: 8.5 percent (down from 9 percent).
  • McDowell: 12.3 percent (up from 12.2 percent).
  • Mitchell: 10.6 percent (down from 10.9 percent).
  • Polk: 7.1 percent (down from 7.5 percent).
  • Rutherford: 13.6 percent (down from 13.7 percent).
  • Swain: 11.1 percent (down from 13.3 percent).
  • Transylvania: 8.2 percent (down from 8.6 percent).
  • Yancey: 10.6 percent (down from 10.7 percent).

Related Document

N.C. Employment Security Commission news release about May 2011 county unemployment rates that includes charts and maps

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Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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