North Carolina’s unemployment rate climbed to 5.2 percent in March, the third straight month it has increased, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

The state jobless rate is the highest since October of 2005, when the it reached 5.3 percent.

The biggest reason for the increase was a loss of 6,600 jobs in professional and business services. That primarily includes landscapers, architects, engineers, lawyers and accountants.

Manufacturing jobs fell by 3,100, and construction employment dropped 2,400.

The national unemployment rate was 5.1 percent.

The number of people holding jobs decreased only by 180 in March to 4,306,624. People seeking unemployment benefits went up 7,778 to 234,086.

“Overall, what we are seeing in these numbers is that employment growth has just been slow,” said Larry Parker, a spokesperson for the ESC.

The difference between jobs loss and number of employed reflects several factors, Parker explained. Those include people moving to the state who have not found jobs or who became eligible for unemployment benefits after running out of severance benefits from previous jobs.