RALEIGH – The Triangle’s labor market remains tight, with unemployment rates lower in many of the area’s counties compared to a year ago.

That’s according to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, which released the county-level unemployment rate data for March 2022 earlier today.

Across the state, the unemployment rate is lowest in Orange County, at 2.4% as of March 2022.  In March 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 3.6%.  In neighboring Chatham County, where VinFast will build its $4 billion automotive assembly plant and FedEx Ground will open a distribution center, the unemployment rate was 2.6% in March 2022, compared to 3.9% the prior year.

In both Wake County and Durham County, the unemployment rate in March 2022 was found to be 2.9%.  Last year, Durham County’s unemployment rate was 4.5% and the unemployment rate in Wake County was 4.4%.

“The local level March labor market numbers continued to show improvement,” said Dr. Michael Walden, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University and a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.

The latest WRAL TechWire Jobs Report found that there are currently more than 60,000 job openings available across the Triangle.

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Rural counties making largest employment gains

“In looking at the year-over-year changes in the unemployment rate,” said Walden.  “The largest jobless rate reductions were in rural counties.”

Walden highlighted a reduction of greater than two percentage points in Allegheny, Dare, Hoke, Northampton, Swain, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties.

“The commonality is all are rural counties, suggesting that the greatest improvements in the labor market are now coming to rural areas,” said Walden.

According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, 14 of the state’s 15 metro areas experienced rate decreases in March 2022 compared to the prior month, while one remained unchanged. Among the metro areas, Rocky Mount had the highest rate at 6.1% while Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest at 2.8%, down from 2.9% a month ago and 4.3% a year ago. The unemployment rate in the Raleigh metro area was 2.9%, down from 3.0% a month ago and 4.4% a year ago.

All 15 of the state’s metro areas experienced rate decreases over the year, a statement from the Department of Commerce noted.

The March 2022 non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate across all of North Carolina was 3.6%.

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