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North Carolina’s unemployment rate drops slightly in March

Unemployment can be a health hazard.
NPR file
Unemployment can be a health hazard.

North Carolina's unemployment rate continued its steady decline in March, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point last month to 3.5%. Non-farm employment increased by more than 18,100. The largest gains came in construction (4,200 additional workers), education and health services (4,000) and manufacturing (3,200).

There were slight decreases in employment among mining and logging businesses, which lost 100 workers. Trade, transportation and utility firms lost 1,300 workers last month.

Overall, the Commerce Department says nearly 192,000 more North Carolinians are working now than this time last year. The agency will release county-level unemployment data for March at the end of the month.

Across the U.S., the number of people seeking unemployment benefits ticked up last week but remained at a historically low level, reflecting a robust U.S. labor market with near record-high job openings and few layoffs. Jobless claims rose by 18,000 to 185,000, the Labor Department said, after nearly touching the lowest level since 1968 in the previous week.

The four-week average of claims, which levels out week-to-week ups and downs, edged up from 170,000 to 172,000. Two years after the coronavirus pandemic sent the economy into a brief but devastating recession, American workers are enjoying extraordinary job security. Weekly applications for unemployment aid, a proxy for layoffs, have remained consistently below their pre-pandemic level of 225,000.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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