RALEIGH – County-by-county and metro data for March is “bad news,” indicating a “slowing North Carolina economy,” says N.C. State economist Dr. Mike Walden.

The Department of Commerce released March employment data on Wednesday, using numbers that haven’t been seasonably adjusted. Breaking down each county and metro area, Walden told WRAL TechWire:

“The appropriate comparison is year-over-year because – as Commerce states – the monthly numbers are not adjusted for typical seasonal changes.  When the year-over-year changes in the county unemployment rates are compared, almost half (47) of the counties had a rise in the rate from March 2022 and March 2023.   Some of the increases were large:  0.4 points in Jackson County, 0.3 in Randolph, 0.3 in Pasquotank, and even 0.3 in Orange County.   Hence, this report is consistent with a slowing North Carolina economy.”

Just last week, Walden warned economic indicators were pointing toward a recession.

However, Walden termed the state’s seasonably adjusted numbers released last week a “good report.”

The Department of Commerce points out about the numbers: “It is important to note that employment estimates are subject to large seasonal patterns; therefore, it is advisable to focus on over-the-year changes in the not seasonally adjusted estimates.”

Unemployment also rose in 11 of the state’s largest metro areas, including Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill.

NC Department of Commerce chart