Unemployment in the Raleigh-Cary and Durham metro areas dipped slightly in April, but the jobless rate remains substantially higher than a year earlier, according to statistics released Friday by the state’s Employment Security Commission.

The Raleigh-Cary unemployment rate dipped to 4 percent from 4.1 percent in March, and the Durham rate dropped to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent. However, in April 2007 the rates stood at 3.3 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

“We’ve crept up, but it’s been a very, very slow rise,” said Larry Parker, a spokesperson for the ESC. “What you will find is that job growth has slowed down as more people have entered the work force.”

North Carolina’s work force reached a record in April of 4,550,309. However, job growth has not kept pace. The state counted an all-time high of 4,325,878 workers in January of this year. In April, 4,310,425 had jobs.

Statewide, unemployment dropped in 80 of 100 counties and in 11 of the top 14 metro areas.

However, ESC Chairman Harry Payne, Jr. warned that the job picture could change as the national economy slows more and energy prices continue to soar.

“While we are pleased about a large number of counties experiencing a rate decrease, we need to be cautious with the current national economic conditions,” he said. “Higher fuel prices certainly can have an impact on unemployment.”

Wake County’s jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent from 3.9 percent last month. Durham County’s declined to 4 percent from 4.2 percent, and Orange County’s rate fell to 3.3 percent from 3.4 percent, the lowest in the state.

Metro area jobless rates for April:

  • Asheville — 4.1 percent, down from 4.4 percent in March
  • Burlington — 5.4 percent, down from 5.5 percent.
  • Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord NC-SC — 5.1 percent, down from 5.3 percent.
  • Durham — 4.1 percent, down from 4.2 percent.
  • Fayetteville — 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent.
  • Goldsboro — 5.0 percent, no change.
  • Greensboro-High Point — 5.3 percent, down from 5.4 percent.
  • Greenville — 5.7 percent, no change.
  • Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton — 6.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent.
  • Jacksonville — 4.8 percent, down from 4.9 percent.
  • Raleigh-Cary — 4.0 percent, down from 4.1 percent.
  • Rocky Mount — 7.6 percent, up from 7.4.
  • Wilmington — 4.5 percent, down from 4.8 percent.
  • Winston-Salem — 4.9 percent, down from 5.0 percent.

The April metro and country figures are not seasonably adjusted. Last week, the state’s seasonably adjusted rate of 5.4 percent was the highest since August of 2005.

Seasonably adjusted rates are based on a formula that includes estimates about the work force based on such factors as temporary employment and graduates from college and high school who are entering the work force.

The ESC does not seasonally adjust county-by-county rates and metro-area market rates because of the labor  that would be required to compile the information, the agency said.

Economists generally accept seasonably adjusted rates as being the most accurate figure. The unadjusted employment rate for the state in April actually dipped two-tenths of a percentage point, to 5.1 percent from March.