Nearly three-quarters of North Carolina’s counties saw their unemployment rates drop in February, while Hyde County maintained the highest percentage in the state and the rate was in double-digits for a second straight month.
More than 15,000 additional North Carolinians had a job in February, while the eligible workforce grew by just over 10,000 compared to January.
The average unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted, in North Carolina for February was at 3.6 percent, down 0.1 percent both from January 2023 and February 2022.
The data from the N.C. Department of Commerce came out the same week that a new report showed the U.S. added a healthy 236,000 jobs in March, despite the Fed’s recent interest rate hikes. The national unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, just above the 53-year low of 3.4 percent set in January.
WOBX Publisher Clark Twiddy told The Associated Press the visitor economy on the Outer Banks still faces “the tightest job market of anyone’s lifetime.”
“There’s no algorithm that cleans up a bathroom or a kitchen,” Twiddy said. “We have to pay more. We have to train more. We have to engage more.”
Orange County had the lowest unemployment rate in North Carolina at 2.8 percent in February. Twelve of the state’s metro areas experienced rate decreases and three remained unchanged.
Among the metro areas, Rocky Mount had the highest rate at 5.2 percent while Asheville had the lowest at 3.0 percent. The February not seasonally adjusted statewide rate was 3.6 percent.
The 12 counties of the Greater Outer Banks saw their combined unemployment percentage drop 0.1 points from January to 5.0 percent (4,679 jobless claims), as did the three Outer Banks counties of Currituck, Dare and Hyde to 5.9 percent (2,043).
Camden had the region’s lowest unemployment at 3.5 percent, followed by Gates (3.6), Currituck and Chowan (3.7), Bertie (4.5), Pasquotank (4.6), Perquimans and Hertford counties (4.8), Washington (5.7), Dare (7.3), Tyrrell (7.7) and Hyde (10.6).
Bertie had the biggest decrease from the previous February (0.6 percent), with Camden, Chowan, Currituck and Hertford also declining. Hyde had the highest increase of 1.3 percent, with Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington also seeing increases.
The total eligible labor force in February increased slightly in the region to 93,269 (+388 from January) with 88,590 working, and in the Outer Banks counties to 34,452 (+18) with 32,409 having a job.
North Carolina’s eligible labor force in February was 5,165,808 (+10,340) and 4,979,802 people employed (+15,169).