While Ashe County’s unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percent to 8.7 percent for March 2014, the rate remains the highest in the High Country region, according to data released by the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division.
In addition, the labor force increased within the county to 11,194, up from 10,878 in February and 11,063 in January. The number of county citizens filing for unemployment also decreased from 994 in February to 974.
According to the DOC, unemployment rates in North Carolina increased in 23 counties and decreased in 59 counties.
“The number of workers employed statewide (not seasonally adjusted) increased in March by 47,707 to 4,355,340, while those unemployed decreased 210 to 306,429,” according to the release. “Since March 2013, the number of workers employed statewide increased 68,328, while those unemployed decreased 86,425.”
In the High Country, unemployment rates increased in Alleghany, Watauga and Wilkes counties while decreasing in Ashe, Mitchell and Yancey counties. Avery County’s unemployment rate remained at 8.1 percent.
Watauga saw the largest increase in the area, with the county’s unemployment rate increasing by 0.4 percent, while Mitchell County saw the largest drop, decreasing by 0.6 percent.
Ashe County remained ranked No. 85 out of the state’s 100 counties in terms of unemployment. Between March 2013 and March 2014, according to the DOC, the unemployment rate in Ashe decreased 2.7 percent.
Chatham and Orange counties had the lowest unemployment rates in the state (4.6 percent), while Graham (12.7 percent) and Scotland (12.2 percent) counties had the highest rates.
The Durham-Chapel Hill, Greenville and Jacksonville Metropolitian Statistical Areas (MSA) saw very small (0.1 percent) increases in the unemployment rate, while the other MSAs remained even or dropped. The Wilmington MSA saw the biggest drop (0.4 percent) between February and March.
Four counties in North Carolina have unemployment rates at 5 percent or lower, while six counties have rates at 10 percent or higher.
According to the North Carolina DOC, all five combined statistical areas either remained even or saw drops.
The next unemployment update will take place Friday, May 16 when statewide data for April 2014 will be released.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.