RALEIGH — North Carolina’s unemployment rate inched higher for July as the state’s labor force declined by nearly 15,000 over the course of a month, state officials said Monday.
The jobless rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 6.5 percent in July after being flat for two months, according to a report by the Commerce Department. North Carolina’s unemployment rate was higher than the national rate of 6.2 percent.
The number of people with jobs fell from the previous month by a seasonally adjusted 20,000 to about 4.4 million, representing the second straight month the number has fallen. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed — those without a job but available and looking for work — increased by about 5,300 to just over 304,000.
The state’s labor force — a combination of those with jobs and people who are looking for work — dropped by 14,550 over the month to nearly 4.7 million.
North Carolina-based economist Mark Kurt said the report was disappointing compared to recent months in which the jobless rate dipped as low as 6.2 percent in April.
“The number of employed decreased almost 20,000, when it’s seasonally adjusted, which is quite a bit,” said Kurt, an associate professor of economics at Elon University.
Still, Kurt noted the numbers look better than they did a year ago when the unemployment rate was 1.6 percentage points higher. Total private sector jobs have grown by about 94,000 since July 2013.
“When you compare it year to year, it’s not a bad report,” he said. “Overall, the last year has been good for North Carolina.”
The industry with the biggest seasonally adjusted gain in jobs from the prior month was professional and business services, with an increase of 4,800. Education and health services lost 1,600 jobs, the largest decline from the previous month.