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Countywide unemployment rates, released by the Division of Employment Security today, showed that unemployment was mixed across the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina in November.

Unemployment in the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area settled at 7.5 percent, the second-lowest in the state, behind Durham-Chapel Hill. The lowest unemployment rates were in Polk and Buncombe counties, at 7.1 and 7.2 percent, respectively.

Unemployment was highest in Graham County, where the rate rose to 15 percent, up nearly a full percentage point from the month before, making it the third-highest rate in the state.

Statewide, figures showed that rates decreased in 74 of the state’s 100 counties, increased in 20 and stayed the same in six.

Month-over-month numbers showed much the same. Comparing October and November, rates showed that unemployment increased in eight counties, fell in eight others, and remained the same in one, Clay County.

The statewide rate for November was 9.5 percent. Nine WNC counties were above that rate, while eight were below.

“Unemployment rates continued to drop across North Carolina in November,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll in the division’s release. “Over-the-year, rates have decreased in 71 counties.”

Indeed, comparisons in unemployment between November 2010 and November 2011 showed that unemployment fell in most of the 17 WNC counties. Twelve saw some decrease in unemployment rates, with the biggest drop being in Graham County, where unemployment fell more than 4 percent. Three counties saw increases compared to November 2010, while the rate remained the same in Macon and Transylvania counties.

Click to view full-size image. Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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Angie Newsome

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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