North Carolina jobless rate increases for second straight month to 6.8 percent for August



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RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina's unemployment rate increased for the second straight month to 6.8 percent in August, pushing it further above the national jobless rate.

Figures released Friday show that North Carolina's seasonally adjusted unemployment increased by 0.3 percentage points from July. The national rate was 6.1 percent for August.

In North Carolina, the number of people with jobs fell by nearly 29,000 from July. The state's labor force also dropped, continuing a trend that's seen the number of those with jobs or looking for work drop by about 29,000 in the past year.

In recent months, North Carolina's jobless rate had dipped as low as 6.2 percent in April before starting to inch up again. Still, state unemployment has dropped in the past year from 8 percent in August 2013.

North Carolina was among 24 states that saw monthly unemployment rate increases for August, while 15 had decreases and 11 were flat.

A North Carolina-based economist says the true picture of joblessness in North Carolina may be worse than Friday's numbers reflect because state and national unemployment rolls don't reflect people who've given up looking for work. Dora Gicheva, an assistant professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, say those who try to re-enter the labor force after a long time without work can face a stigma from employers.

"Everything else equal, firms prefer to hire workers who are either working or who have been unemployed for a brief period. They take long-term unemployment as a bad signal," she said.

Gicheva also noted that the average weekly hours for North Carolina manufacturing workers increased by 42 minutes from July, when the number was 43 hours per week. She says that could show that employers are reluctant to hire.

"I think that shows that employers are trying not to hire new workers. Instead they are asking workers to put in longer hours," she said.

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