January 2012 unemployment rates. Map courtesy of the N.C. Division of

Unemployment in 13 of 17 WNC counties above N.C. average

January joblessness in Henderson County was the third lowest in the state. But four counties west in Graham County, more than one out of every five workers were unemployed — the highest rate among the state’s 100 counties.

This arguably extreme mix of highs and lows for the unemployed in January was officially on show today, when the N.C. Division of Employment Security released the first look at unemployment numbers for the first month of 2012.

According to the division, rates increased in 95 of the state’s counties, decreased in three and stayed the same in two others.

“Seasonal losses in retail as well as the leisure and hospitality sector contributed to gains in the unemployment rates,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll. “While rates were up in January, over-the-year nearly half of the state’s counties’ unemployment rates decreased or remained the same. Our focus continues to be our customers in assisting them find work through programs at our DES offices and JobLink Career Centers statewide.”

In Western North Carolina, 13 of the 17 westernmost counties were above the statewide unemployment average of 10.5 percent for January. Four — Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Polk counties — were below. Graham County’s rate was 20.6 percent — nearly double the statewide average. Swain County, at 19.4 percent, was third highest in the state.

But the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area rested at 8.6 percent, making it third-lowest among the state’s MSAs. Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties make up the MSA.

For more county-by-county numbers, see the below graphs.

Click to view full-size image. Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press
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 anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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