RALEIGH – A new report on North Carolina’s unemployment data shows an uptick in unemployment in 89 of the state’s counties, and is the latest economic indicator that the state’s economy might be slowing or slipping.

According to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, there are now 15 counties with unemployment rates above 5%.  Still, the unemployment rate in 89 of the state’s counties increased in May compared to April.

Chatham County and Orange County both saw unemployment rates ticked up by 0.3% in May, though at 2.9%, the two counties remain where unemployment is the lowest in the state.  Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate, at 7.3%.

In all 100 counties, however, the unemployment rate was lower in May 2022 than in May 2021.

Economic forecast shows NC economy experiencing a pullback, including in job market

Slowing state economy

“The slowing economy in the state during May was evident by the fact the unemployment rate rose in 89 of the state’s 100 counties,” said Dr. Michael Walden, an economist and a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University, in an interview with WRAL TechWire on Wednesday.

“While these are seasonally-unadjusted numbers, the seasonal adjustments between April and May in North Carolina should be relatively small,” Walden added.  “The rising jobless rate in most North Carolina counties is consistent with other statewide factors associated with a reduced economic growth rate, such as falling building permits and rising initial jobless claims.”

Last week, Dr. Walden’s monthly report that tracks five leading indicators in North Carolina’s economy showed an economic pullback had continued in May after the index fell in April, as well.

“While many economists predict the economic slowdown will continue and possibly accelerate, the real determination will be how fast and how much the Federal Reserve raises interest rates,” said Walden.  “The Fed is still in the early stages of their interest rate tightening;  hence, I predict we will see further unemployment rate jumps in most counties in coming months.”

NC unemployment rate now 3.4% – but job seekers, keep this in mind

Triangle area counties still see lowest unemployment rates in North Carolina