NC jobless rate now 5%; 7th consecutive monthly decline

North Carolina

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate has reached another COVID-19 post-lockdown low, even as overall job growth is somewhat uneven.

April’s seasonally adjusted state jobless rate of 5% marks a decline for a seventh consecutive month, according to the state Commerce Department. It compares to the top pandemic rate of 13.5% recorded in both April 2020 and May 2020.

While the number of employed people grew by 4,500 between March and April to about 4.76 million, overall non-farm employment actually dropped by 5,800. And with the number of unemployed also falling by 8,100, it appears some displaced workers are no longer actively seeking work.

The employment categories that include professional and business services and transportation saw the largest numerical decline, according to data released by the department.

Last Friday’s jobless figures came the same day that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order reinstating the requirement that, as of June 6, all unemployment benefit recipients meet work-search rules set in state law to receive payments.

Those requirements had been suspended during the pandemic. Cooper had already reinstated work-search requirements for new benefit filers as of mid-March.

The governor’s office also said last Friday the Commerce Department was told to look at ways the state could use federal funds to create an incentive program for jobless individuals who become employed.

Republicans in the state Senate unveiled a legislative proposal last week that would give benefit recipients bonuses of $1,500 or $750 if they return to work soon. GOP lawmakers say they’ve heard from employers desperately seeking employees to fill vacancies.

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