RALEIGH – The state’s unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, according to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. But that wasn’t all. Hiring’s up. So is labor force participation.

“The latest North Carolina job report for January was positive,” said Dr. Michael Walden, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University and a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.   “The unemployment rate was down, the labor force participation rate was up, and the number of jobs increased.”

The data, which is for January 2022, found that the seasonall -adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.9 percent from the revised December 2021 rate of 4.1 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate in January 2021 was 4.0 percent.

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Compared to a year ago, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.6 percentage points, a statement from the Department of Commerce noted.

But there are storm signs on the horizon, Walden cautioned.

“With the virus apparently receding, it would have been a time to cheer,” said Walden.  “But now a new crisis has emerged – Ukraine.”

There will be an elevated level of uncertainty, for as long as the war lasts, said Walden. “It will be interesting to see if the Federal Reserve goes ahead with its promised interest rate hike,” he added.  “For the first time in 40 years, I’m hearing worries about “stagflation” – an economic situation occurring when the inflation rate is high and economic growth is low.

“It’s the worst of all situations,” Walden said.

Source: North Carolina Department of Commerce.

More North Carolinians working, fewer unemployed

Nearly 180,000 – 179,320 to be exact – more people across North Carolina were working in January 2022 compared to January 2021, while the total number of unemployed persons decreased by 70,319 in the same period, according to the data.

During January, the number of people employed in North Carolina increased by 25,124, with gains of about 3,400 in professional services, 2,900 in construction, 2,700 in financial activities, 1,100 in education and health services.

Sectors that lost jobs included trade, transportation, and utilities, losing some 2,300 jobs, other service jobs, some 2,000 lost, and 1,200 fewer roles in government. There were also fewer roles in leisure and hospitality and manufacturing, which fell by 500 and 100, respectively.

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Employment up in all sectors in last year

But since last year, the leisure and hospitality sector has added 49,600 jobs, the report found, while there are 20,300 additional governmental roles, and 37,300 new professional and business service roles.

In transportation, trade, and utilities, there are 12,400 more jobs than one year ago.

The financial sector added 11,500 jobs, while education and health services added 10,400 roles in the year.

There are also 7,300 more manufacturing roles and 6,500 more construction roles than a year ago, along with 5,400 more information roles and 5,800 additional other service roles in North Carolina’s economy, according to the report.

Tech sector strong

One area of North Carolina’s economy that is seeking workers is the technology sector, as job postings are at an all time high, according to the most recent NC TECH IT Jobs Report.

The NC TECH State of the Technology Industry report, released earlier this month, concluded that the state’s technology sector was driving growth in the economy, and a recent Brookings Institute study concluded that tech sector employment was occurring at a faster pace than the economy generally.

Report: NC’s tech sector is ‘driving growth and changing the economy’