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Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) decreased in 96 of North Carolina’s counties in December and increased in four, according to figures released Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Bladen County’s unemployment was at 4.3% for December, which was a 0.7% drop compared to November’s 5.0% rate, the state figures show.

Tyrell County had the highest unemployment rate at 7.1 percent while Buncombe, Greene, Orange, and Watauga Counties each had the lowest at 2.5 percent. All fifteen of the state’s metro areas experienced rate decreases. Among the metro areas, Rocky Mount had the highest rate at 5.2 percent while Asheville had the lowest at 2.5 percent. The December not seasonally adjusted statewide rate was 3.2 percent.

When compared to the same month last year, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates increased in 47 counties, decreased in 30, and remained unchanged in 23. Five of the state’s metro areas experienced rate increases over the year, four decreased, and six remained unchanged.

Southeastern North Carolina rates: Bladen 4.3, Brunswick 4.3, Columbus 4.0, Duplin 3.1, New Hanover 2.9, Pender 3.1, Robeson 5.3, Sampson 3.1.

The number of workers employed statewide (not seasonally adjusted) increased in December by 2,607 to 4,926,333, while those unemployed decreased by 29,503 to 163,346. Since December 2021, the number of workers employed statewide increased 93,639, while those unemployed increased 2,676.

The Commerce Department says that it’s 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.

The next unemployment update is scheduled for Monday, March 13 when the state unemployment rate for January.

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