- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina’s unemployment rate ticked upward two tenths of a percentage point to 5.7 percent in May, even as the state added 10,400 non-farm jobs, according to a report released by the state Department of Commerce on Friday.

It was the third straight monthly increase of the state jobless rate, and the second month in a row it exceeded the national unemployment rate, which grew to 5.5 percent in May from 5.4 percent the previous month.

Both the state and national labor force grew in May, by 0.6 and 0.3 percentage points respectively, meaning the number of people entering the search for work exceeded the number of people finding jobs.

Zagros Madjd-Sadjadi, a professor of economics at Winston-Salem State University, said the growth in the labor force continued to signal that people who had been discouraged from finding work were regaining trust in the job market.

The job sector registering the highest employment growth in the state was education and health services, which added 2,800 jobs in May. Following were construction, which added 2,400 jobs, and leisure and hospitality services, which added 2,300 jobs. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 3,700 jobs in May, according to the report.

Madjd-Sadjadi said the sectors registering growth are more reliant on local economic factors. Trade and transportation jobs, he said, were more affected by the national economy, which has seen layoffs at large national retailers.

“North Carolina is actually doing better than the national economy in this report,” Madjd-Sadjadi said.

In North Carolina, manufacturing hours worked decreased in May, while wages increased, possibly signaling a decrease in overtime work.

“Employers are reaching out to hire new people, they’re not trying to overwork their staff,” Madjd-Sadjadi said.

With a shift from overtime pay to long-term wage increase, Madjd-Sadjadi said people were more likely to save or invest their money than spend it quickly on consumer items, which is part of the reason retailers have cut back.

Total employment in North Carolina reached 4,498,193 in May, up 3.7 percent from a year ago. The number of unemployed in the state decreased 6.6 percent over the year, to 272,663.

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