Joblessness rose across most of WNC, including Asheville area

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

Unemployment was up in 16 of the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina in December, according to countywide unemployment information released today by the Division of Employment Security.

Western North Carolina also became the area with the worst unemployment rate in the state, according to the release, which presents the most up-to-date information on joblessness in North Carolina. With an unemployment rate at 17.5 percent, Graham County had the highest unemployment among all 100 North Carolina counties.

Across the state, the division reported, rates increased in 93 counties, decreased in four and remained the same in three others.

Among the 17 westernmost counties, only Madison County’s rate decreased between November and December. It fell slightly, from 9.0 to 8.9 percent. Buncombe and Henderson counties had the lowest rates among the counties, at 7.6 percent for both.

“Our focus is helping existing and new employers grow jobs in North Carolina,” N.C. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll said in the release. “Assisting our customers with finding work and helping them through programs at our DES offices and JobLink Career Centers statewide remains our priority.”

In comparison to the statewide unemployment rate, which is 9.8 percent, unemployment was mixed across the mountains for the month. Ten WNC counties were above the statewide, while seven others were below.

A look at the rate for the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area also showed an increase in unemployment for the month. However, the area’s unemployment, at 7.9 percent in December, remained the second-lowest rate in the state, behind Durham-Chapel Hill. All but one of the state’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas saw an increase in unemployment, the division reported.

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

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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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