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NC Jobless Rate Dips To 10 Percent In 6-Month Low

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The employment picture in North Carolina got its first significant dose of encouraging news in several months, when figures released Tuesday showed a drop in the jobless rate to 10 percent.

The November number, down from 10.4 percent in October, is the lowest unemployment figure since June, as the private sector added roughly 4,600 jobs, according to the state Employment Security Commission. The state’s rate is still higher than the national average of 8.6 percent, which dropped from 9 percent a month earlier.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Mark Vitner said. “The drop in the North Carolina rate was the same as we saw nationally, but we’re still stuck at 10 percent, which is not where you want to be.”

Growth in the private sector was slightly offset by about 800 public jobs lost. Overall, North Carolina lists 451,413 people as unemployed, with just over 4 million currently working. Although the drop in the jobless figure is encouraging, Vitner said, it’s still higher than it was this time last year, when unemployment stood at 9.8 percent.

“The drop in the unemployment rate was significant,” Deputy Commerce Secretary Dale Carroll said. “However, the focus must remain on growing jobs in our state.”

Most of the growth in jobs last month came in the education, health, transportation and utilities fields, while the professional and business services sector shed nearly 3,700 jobs.

Some of the drop in the state’s jobless rate is probably attributable to people who have simply stopped looking for work, according to Andrew Brod, senior research fellow at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics, but in general the numbers show a genuine increase in the number of people with jobs.

“They’re encouraging numbers,” he said. “They’re not good numbers yet, because the unemployment rate is still 10 percent, and 10 percent is terrible.”

Both Vitner and Brod expect to see some improvement next year, with hopes that the jobless rate in North Carolina will dip below 10 percent for the first time since June.

“It’s sad to say, but getting back into the nines would be good news,” Brod said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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