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State’s unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell sharply in March, state officials announced on Friday, as the number of people holding jobs grew by over 11,000 compared to the month before.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased from 5.7% in February to 5.2%, the state Commerce Department said in a news release, marking sixth consecutive month of declines. The national rate was 6% in March.

The March rate in North Carolina is the lowest since a 3.9% rate in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic caused government officials to scale back or shutter businesses and close schools. The state rate then soared to 13.5% last spring. The jobless figures have slowly improved since then, especially as commerce restrictions have eased.

The number of employed residents overall grew by 11,340 to almost 4.76 million people, the Commerce Department said. But the number of people unemployed also dropped by 27,620, suggesting that some of them are no longer looking for work.

Department data show the largest month-over-month numeric employment gains were in manufacturing, which saw an increase of 4,300 filled positions, and in leisure and hospitality services, which had an increase of 4,100.