- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - An economist said Tuesday that private sector job growth has been strong in North Carolina even though the state’s overall unemployment rate inching up for the fourth month.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce released figures showing the unemployment rate for June was 5.8 percent, a slight increase from the previous month. The May rate was 5.7 percent.

Nationally, unemployment fell to 5.3 percent representing the third month it was lower that North Carolina’s.

Richard Kaglic, a senior regional economist with Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said data shows private sector job growth in the state is outpacing the country as a whole.

State figures show that seasonally adjusted private employment increased by 4,700 jobs from the previous month. However, government employment declined by a seasonally adjusted 7,800 jobs. Kaglic said it’s not surprising for those numbers to decline over the summer when school’s out, even when seasonal adjustments are factored in.

“As a whole, the numbers continue to reflect an economy that’s continuing to create jobs,” he said. “Business activity continues to increase and that’s creating this demand for labor.”

Seasonally adjusted figures show the state’s labor force grew slightly since May. The growing workforce has been a positive sign for the state’s economy.

“When you look at the preponderance of numbers … things continue to improve,” Kaglic said, adding that he doesn’t see any signs that things will take a turn for the worse in the coming months.

The state’s unemployment remains lower than it was a year ago, and the size of the workforce is also larger. The jobless rate began inching up in March after months of declines.

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