The number of people without work across North Carolina went up by 3,374 workers in January, according to data released Thursday by the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.

That increase pushed the overall unemployment rate up to 9.9 percent in January. That is nearly one percentage point higher than the country’s rate, which fell to 9 percent in the same month.

The agency also said that more than 4 million people are employed across the state, while more than 440,000 are jobless. Still, the number is better than a year ago, when the state’s unemployment rate reached 11.4 percent.

In the agency’s release, ESC Chairman Lynn R. Holmes said the January number reflected a gain of 4,500 jobs and “an indication of strong growth in the retail sector.”

But, according to the release, North Carolina’s labor force has decreased by 2.1 percent since December 2007, the beginning of the recession. Specifically, the state has lost 310,400 non-farm jobs and 99,900 manufacturing jobs.

Countywide unemployment numbers for January are set to be released on March 18. Read and download the ESC’s full January report here.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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