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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News State State’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.7 Percent in March

State’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.7 Percent in March

Nonfarm Jobs Increase by 38,800 Over-the-Year

RALEIGH, N.C. : April 20, 2012 - North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.2 of a percentage point to 9.7 percent from February’s revised rate of 9.9 percent, as the number of persons unemployed decreased by 12,092 to 451,657.
“Since the start of the year, the rate has dropped three consecutive months,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll. “Over-the-year figures continue to show improving numbers with the private sector gaining more than 37,000 jobs. Finding North Carolinians work through our programs and services available at our local offices remains our priority.”
Seasonally adjusted Total Nonfarm industry employment, as gathered through the monthly establishment survey, decreased by 1,300 to 3,958,900 in March.
Since March 2011, Total Nonfarm jobs gained 38,800 with the majority of the gain coming from the Private Sector (37,200).
The major industry with the largest over-the-month increase was Financial Activities, which gained 1,600.
The largest over-the-year increase of major industries was in Education & Health Services, which gained 11,500 jobs, followed by Trade, Transportation & Utilities at 11,400.
Other significant increases included Professional & Business Services at 6,700, and Leisure & Hospitality Services, 4,800.
The number of people employed (smoothed seasonally adjusted) increased by 4,240 to 4,228,180 over the month, and by 63,805 over the year. The state unemployment rate in March 2011 was 10.4 percent.
The next unemployment update is scheduled for Friday, April 27, when the county unemployment rates for March 2012 will be released.
It is important to note that industry employment estimates are subject to large seasonal patterns.
While seasonal adjustment factors are applied to the data, these factors may not be fully capturing the seasonal trend. Therefore, when interpreting the industry employment changes, it is advisable to focus on the over-the-year changes in both the smoothed seasonally adjusted series and not seasonally adjusted series.
Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) Benchmarking
Monthly labor force statistics for the state and substate areas are revised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through the annual benchmark process. This annual revision updates the historical monthly labor force statistics to reflect revised new population controls, seasonal factors, employment estimates and unemployment insurance claims. The new population controls reflect, for the first time, the results from the 2010 Decennial Census. Both seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted data are subject to revisions back to 2007.
Monthly Nonfarm payroll employment estimates for the state and substate areas are also subject to annual revisions required by the BLS. The employment estimates are adjusted through a process that overlays these sample-based estimates with actual employment data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program that has been adjusted to reflect CES employment definitions. The seasonally adjusted series are subject to revisions from 1990 forward.
2012The North Carolina smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in March, a decrease of 0.2 of a percentage point over the month from February’s revised rate of 9.9 percent, and 0.7 of a percentage point lower than March 2011. Over the month, the number of persons unemployed declined by 12,092 (2.6%). The civilian labor force was relatively unchanged at 4,679,837. Nationally, March’s unemployment rate decreased 0.1 of a percentage point over the month to 8.2 percent. The number of persons unemployed fell by 133,000 (1.0%), while the civilian labor force declined by 164,000 (0.1%).
Starting with the January 2012 national labor force statistics, the BLS incorporated new population controls that reflect the results of the 2010 Census.
The BLS did not revise historical data based on these population controls; therefore, labor force statistics for 2012 are not directly comparable with the previous years’ data. Seasonally adjusted Total Nonfarm industry employment (3,958,900) showed a decrease of 1,300 (>-0.1%) since February 2012, and an increase of 38,800 (1.0%) since March 2011. Private sector employment declined over the month by 300 (>-0.1%) and increased over the year by 37,200 (1.2%).
It is important to note that industry employment estimates are subject to large seasonal patterns. Seasonal adjustment factors are applied to the data. However, these factors may not be fully capturing the seasonal trend. Therefore, when interpreting the changes in industry employment, it is advisable to focus on over-the-year changes in both the seasonally adjusted and the not seasonally adjusted series.
Of the major industries for which payroll data are seasonally adjusted, Financial Activities had the largest over-the-month gain in jobs (1,600; 0.8%), followed by Leisure & Hospitality Services (1,300; 0.3%), Trade, Transportation & Utilities (1,000; 0.1%), Information (700; 1.0%) and Manufacturing (700; 0.2%). Construction (2,900; 1.7%) had the largest over-the-month decrease, followed by Professional & Business Services (1,300; 0.3%), Government (1,000; 0.1%), Other Services (800; 0.5%), and Education & Health Services (600; 0.1%). Mining & Logging reported no change. Since March 2011, Education & Health Services added the largest number of jobs (11,500; 2.1%), followed by Trade, Transportation & Utilities (11,400; 1.6%), Professional & Business Services (6,700; 1.3%), and Leisure & Hospitality Services (4,800; 1.2%).
The March 2012 not seasonally adjusted Total Nonfarm employment level of 3,944,000 was 33,100 (0.8%) higher than the February 2012 revised employment level of 3,910,900.
Among the major industries in North Carolina, Leisure & Hospitality had the largest over-the-month increase in employment at 10,400 (2.7%), followed by Trade, Transportation & Utilities (7,900; 1.1%), Government (4,600; 0.6%) and Construction (2,600; 1.6%). Over the year, the Service Providing sector (all industries except Mining & Logging, Construction, and Manufacturing) showed an increase of 41,200 (1.3%) jobs. Education & Health Services experienced the largest employment increase with 12,100 (2.2%), followed by Trade, Transportation & Utilities (11,900; 1.7%), Professional & Business Services (6,900; 1.4%), Leisure & Hospitality (5,800; 1.5%), Government (2,500; 0.3%), Financial Activities (1,100; 0.5%), Information (800; 1.2%) and Other Services (100; 0.1%). All industries within the Service Providing sector reported an over-the-year gain.
The Goods Producing sector grew by 1,800 (0.3%) jobs over the year. Construction declined by 1,200 (0.7%), while Mining & Logging fell by 100 (1.8%). Manufacturing increased by 3,100 (0.7%).
Food had the largest amount of manufacturing employment with 50,900 in March 2012, but decreased by 400 (0.8%) over the year. Machinery had the largest net over-the-year increase at 2,100. Other manufacturing industries with over-the-year increases were: Transportation Equipment, 1,400; Furniture & Related Product, 1,200; Electrical Equipment, Appliance & Component, 900; Fabricated Metal Product, 900; Plastics & Rubber Products, 400; Chemical, 200; and Computer & Electronic Product, 100.
Average Weekly Hours for manufacturing production workers in March increased by 36 minutes from February’s revised 40.9. Average Hourly Earnings fell by $0.10 to $16.45, as Average Weekly Earnings grew by $5.78 to $682.68. Regular Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance (UI) totaled 48,612 in March, decreasing 3,821 from February. Forty-four percent of Initial Claims for March 2012 were “attached” to a payroll, meaning that employees expect to be recalled to their jobs. A total of $110,534,920 in regular UI benefits was paid in March to 117,707 claimants statewide — a decrease of 5,924 claimants since February 2012.
For the 12-month period ending March 2012, $3,468,916,223 was paid from all programs, both state and federal. The UI Trust Fund balance at the end of March was in the red ($2,815,470,171). The State Reserve Fund balance was $85,524,630.
The N.C. Department of Commerce has created the Labor and Economic Analysis Division. This division brings together the economists, analysts, and statisticians that previously worked in the Labor Market Information division at the former Employment Security Commission and Policy, Research and the Strategic Planning divisions within Commerce.

Click here to view the full report from the State of North Carolina...