FILE - Job fair

Job seekers line up for a job fair.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate stayed put in July but lingered high above the national level.

The state’s unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in July, which is 0.5 percent more than the national rate of 3.7. 

On the bright side, the number of people employed is on the up-and-up. 

Since June, 17,620 more North Carolinians were employed, breaking 2018 records, according to the Department of Commerce’s seasonally adjusted numbers.

“North Carolina continues to enjoy a strong economy with more people employed today than a year ago – more than 90,000 people, in fact,” said David Rhodes, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

There are now more than 4.8 million people employed in the state. 

Overall, North Carolina’s labor force increased by 0.4 percent over the past month, which is higher than the national rate of 0.2 percent.

Rhodes said the increase in the labor force is a byproduct of the state’s growth in population. North Carolina has a population of 10.3 million, according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That is 300,000 more than the bureau's 2017 five-year estimate for the state.

“It's also worth noting that more people move to North Carolina than leave, which is increasing the size of our labor force,” Rhodes said.

The number of unemployed residents increased by 1,295 from June to July to 212,072 and increased by 22,428 over the year.

North Carolina started 2019 with an unemployment rate below the national level but peaked above by February. 

The state has consistently stayed above the 4 percent mark since March, while the national rate has been between 3.6 to 3.8 percent during the same period.

Most of the new positions filled in July were in the trade, transportation and utility industries. Government, professional, business, education, health and other services also saw an increase along with manufacturing and finance.

Fewer North Carolinians were employed in the leisure, hospitality, construction, mining and logging industries.

Several new companies set up shop in the state over the year.

In July, Merck (NYSE: MRK), a global biopharmaceutical company, announced that it plans to create 400 jobs in the state.

“Companies consider the quality and size of the workforce when they evaluate a business location, which is why North Carolina continues to do well in attracting businesses to our state,” Rhodes said. 

County jobs numbers are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.


Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.