- Associated Press - Friday, May 16, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - More people are in the job market in North Carolina and more are finding work as the state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month.

The state Commerce Department reported Friday that North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in April, a tenth of a percentage point down from the revised 6.3 percent rate in March.

The monthly drop wasn’t because discouraged workers left the job hunt. Almost 10,000 people entered the state’s labor force of 4.7 million people either working or looking for jobs.

More important than the rate is that more than 14,000 people were added to payrolls between March and April. Almost 70,000 extra people were working in April than the same month last year.

The number of unemployed people also declined by 102,000 over the year.

“We continue to see encouraging signs in North Carolina’s economy with each month that passes,” Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday. “We have made a lot of progress over the past year, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, said while it was a good report, he said he was disappointed in a decline in hourly earnings and in weekly hours worked in manufacturing. He said there was also a decline in construction jobs, which he said may be a holdover due to winter weather.

Walden predicted the state will add about 100,000 net payroll jobs in 2014, up from 85,000 last year and 80,000 the year before that.

“We don’t have the same number of jobs prior to the recession,” Walden said. “So, clearly, we have some space and some room to go.”

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