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Despite job cuts, N.C. unemployment rate drops to 9.9%

Date: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 11:09am EST
Private-sector employers in North Carolina cut about 8,600 jobs in December.

Private-sector employers in North Carolina cut about 8,600 jobs in December.

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Chris Bagley
Staff Writer - Triangle Business Journal

North Carolina’s labor market weakened slightly last month as construction companies, professional services and government agencies pared their payrolls, according to data from the N.C. Department of Commerce  .

Private-sector employers cut about 8,600 jobs on balance, and government agencies cut 3,800, according to a survey of payroll employers by the department.

The cuts were small compared to the gains that the private sector has made since summer. The state’s private sector employed about 3.2 million people last month, 0.9 percent more than in December 2010.

About 701,500 people worked at federal, state and local government agencies, representing a 1.4 percent decline from a year earlier.

Hiring by manufacturers and financial services offset some of the job losses in construction and government since November. Employers also added jobs in a category that includes retailers, wholesalers and distributors, but the hiring was weaker than in most years, according to commerce department data.

A separate survey of households showed the state’s unemployment rate falling to 9.9 percent in December from 10 percent in November, after adjusting for seasonal factors. Unlike the payroll survey, the households survey includes self-employed people but is considered less accurate in measuring month-to-month changes because it relies more heavily on statistical sampling and analysis.

The household survey shows growth in the state’s labor force outpacing job growth since December 2010, nudging the unemployment rate up from 9.8 percent.

Chris Bagley covers the legal industry, transportation and utilities.

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