Counties with the highest unemployment in North Carolina

Written by:
July 8, 2024
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Counties with the highest unemployment in North Carolina

Despite a relatively low unemployment rate, the fear of job losses remains amid ongoing economic uncertainty.

Stacker compiled a list of counties with the highest unemployment rates in North Carolina using Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Counties are ranked by their preliminary unemployment rate in May 2024, with initial ties broken by the number of unemployed people within that county, though some ties may remain. County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Economists forecast a waning risk of recession and predict that the U.S. may instead be headed for an incremental slowdown in growth known as a "soft landing." Still, layoffs among major U.S. employers like Amazon to Tesla have sparked concern among Americans. What's more, unemployment has spiked in nearly half the country's states, which often indicates a looming recession, a chief global economist at Piper Sandler told Business Insider. And with sky-high prices after a period of record inflation, savings and unemployment payments may not cover basic expenses for jobless Americans for long.

For comparison, the Great Recession of 2007-09 sent unemployment rates up to 10% as of October 2009, and a full recovery took years. At the height of the COVID-19 recession in April 2020, unemployment hit 14.7%.

Still, as of June 2024, the national unemployment rate remains relatively low at 4.1%, with little change from the previous month. Regional and state employment range widely depending on local economies. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates by state vary, ranging from just 2% in the Dakotas to 5.3% in Washington D.C.

Read on to see the counties with the highest unemployment in North Carolina.

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#50. Cleveland County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.5%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 50,064 people (1,742 unemployed)

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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#49. Catawba County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.5%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 79,199 people (2,766 unemployed)

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David Louis Econopouly // Shutterstock

#48. Alamance County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.5%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 87,059 people (3,039 unemployed)

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#47. Gaston County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.5%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 118,130 people (4,103 unemployed)

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#46. Chowan County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: No change
- Total labor force: 6,014 people (215 unemployed)

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Kirkam // Shutterstock

#45. Caswell County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: No change
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 9,937 people (360 unemployed)

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#44. Person County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 19,508 people (693 unemployed)

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#43. Franklin County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 35,530 people (1,266 unemployed)

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#42. Randolph County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 65,983 people (2,383 unemployed)

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#41. Davidson County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.3 percentage points
- Total labor force: 81,822 people (2,910 unemployed)

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#40. Forsyth County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 189,027 people (6,810 unemployed)

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#39. Montgomery County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.7%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 11,214 people (412 unemployed)

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#38. Jackson County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.8%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 19,491 people (731 unemployed)

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#37. Wayne County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.8%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 52,790 people (1,985 unemployed)

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#36. Pasquotank County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 17,308 people (680 unemployed)

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#35. Beaufort County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 19,682 people (761 unemployed)

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#34. Lee County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 25,398 people (1,001 unemployed)

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#33. Wilkes County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 25,924 people (1,016 unemployed)

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#32. Rockingham County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: No change
- Total labor force: 39,753 people (1,570 unemployed)

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#31. Pitt County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: No change
- Total labor force: 90,583 people (3,538 unemployed)

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#30. Anson County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.0%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 10,349 people (411 unemployed)

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#29. Tyrrell County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.7 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 1,402 people (57 unemployed)

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#28. Hyde County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.5 percentage points
- Total labor force: 1,859 people (76 unemployed)

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#27. Washington County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.1 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.6 percentage points
- Total labor force: 4,338 people (180 unemployed)

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#26. Northampton County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.3 percentage points
- Total labor force: 7,360 people (303 unemployed)

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#25. Cherokee County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 10,932 people (447 unemployed)

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#24. Harnett County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.3 percentage points
- Total labor force: 56,100 people (2,280 unemployed)

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#23. Brunswick County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 61,037 people (2,482 unemployed)

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#22. Onslow County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 71,188 people (2,895 unemployed)

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#21. Guilford County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.1%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 261,937 people (10,726 unemployed)

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#20. Perquimans County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.2%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 5,201 people (218 unemployed)

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#19. Graham County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.3%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 2,978 people (129 unemployed)

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#18. Alleghany County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.3%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.5 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 4,319 people (185 unemployed)

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#17. Bladen County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.3%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 14,761 people (630 unemployed)

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StacieStauffSmith Photos // Shutterstock

#16. Columbus County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.3%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.5 percentage points
- Total labor force: 22,418 people (962 unemployed)

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#15. Martin County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.4%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 8,780 people (388 unemployed)

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#14. Nash County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.4%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 42,648 people (1,890 unemployed)

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#13. Hoke County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.5%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.5 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 20,857 people (935 unemployed)

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#12. Bertie County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 7,017 people (326 unemployed)

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#11. Richmond County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 17,181 people (787 unemployed)

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#10. Rutherford County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.6%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 23,868 people (1,095 unemployed)

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#9. Cumberland County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.7%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 130,995 people (6,104 unemployed)

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#8. Hertford County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.9%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 8,331 people (412 unemployed)

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#7. Halifax County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.0%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: No change
- Total labor force: 19,457 people (965 unemployed)

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#6. Robeson County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.0%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 48,071 people (2,391 unemployed)

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#5. Vance County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.2%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.4 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 16,574 people (861 unemployed)

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#4. Warren County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.3%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 6,357 people (338 unemployed)

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#3. Edgecombe County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.3%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 20,330 people (1,079 unemployed)

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#2. Wilson County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.4%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.6 percentage points
- Total labor force: 34,115 people (1,834 unemployed)

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#1. Scotland County

- May unemployment rate (preliminary): 6.0%
--- 1-month change: Up 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 11,227 people (678 unemployed)

This story features data reporting by Paxtyn Merten and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 50 states.

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