RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Unemployment in North Carolina continues to tick ever downward, coming in at 3.4% in the most recent figures published Friday by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

That’s only .1 of a percentage point below March’s level – and .2 below the national average that remained at 3.6% – but it’s still moving significantly below the level from April 2021 (5.1%) as the job market continues its robust rebound from the double-digit job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NC DOC reports that the number of people employed in North Carolina increased by 30,263 in April, to nearly 4.884 million. That number is more than 200,000 higher than a year ago.

There are 173,348 people who filed for unemployment, more than 3,900 fewer than in March.

North Carolina’s unemployment trend. (NC DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE)

The rebound has been consistent, but an analysis of monthly data by WalletHub shows there are 21 states in which employment has rebounded more robustly than it has in North Carolina.

WalletHub, the online lending and credit platform that routinely analyzes key data to enlighten trends and issues, compiled changes in unemployment each year since April 2019, or about a year before the impact of the pandemic began to be felt. Each state was ranked based on the data analysis. WalletHub publishes its trends each month.

North Carolina’s rank was based on its continued unemployment claims being 30.5% better than in 2019, 31.3% better than April 2021 and a whopping 73.7% better than in April 2020.

Source: WalletHub

The states that have recovered most quickly are (in order) Utah and Nebraska – both of which have unemployment rates of 1.9% – followed by Indiana, Montana Minnesota, New Hampshire, Kansas, South Dakota, Vermont and Illinois.

Alabama ranked lowest among Southern states (No. 11, followed by Virginia at No. 16).

The bottom five states and the District of Columbia were (51 to 47) DC, New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii and Connecticut. DC (5.8%), New Mexico (5.3%) and Nevada (5%) have the highest unemployment this month.

“I think the most resilient and in-demand occupations right now are related to cyber-security,” Steve Werner, chair of the Department of Management and Leadership at the University of Houston, told WalletHub. “Many companies worry that the current geopolitical conflicts will foster increases in cyberthreats and being prepared is a primary concern.

“Occupations that will be highly demanded in the next months will include digital forensics analysts, information security engineers, penetration testers, and blockchain engineers.”

In North Carolina, the monthly report shows the state’s additional 11,300 jobs this month were mostly in leisure and hospitality (about half), followed by financial activities, manufacturing, “other services,” and government.

Gov. Roy Cooper, in announcing his proposed state budget earlier this month, talked about the need to hire more people for openings in state government, and he proposed salary increases and bonuses to help expedite hiring.

The News & Observer in Raleigh reported that there is a 20% vacancy rate across state government, mostly in the Department of Health and Human Services.  

We will know more about how all of this breaks down locally on June 1, when the state will release its county-specific unemployment data.