WNC Economic Declines In April
Western North Carolina’s economic activity declined in April, erasing earlier job growth in the region. Economic activity, as measured by the Western North Carolina Economic Index compiled at Appalachian, decreased by 0.3 points in April. This continued the declining trend for 2012 in the economic index, which tracks the level of economic activity in 25 western North Carolina counties. According to the report, seasonally adjusted employment for WNC decreased by 0.6 percent in April, following a 0.3 percent drop in March. The last two months of employment decreases halted seven consecutive months of increases. Statewide adjusted employment also decreased by 0.6 percent. Changes in seasonally adjusted county-level employment during the month remains mixed across the region, falling in 18 of the 25 counties. Yancey, McDowell and Watauga counties had the largest employment gains, with 4.6, 1.9 and 0.2 percent increases, respectively, while Alleghany, Graham, and Cherokee had the largest losses, with 2.6, 2.3 and 2.1 percent decreases, respectively. The average unemployment rate across the region was 9.5 percent, while it was 8.1 percent at the national level. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates fell in 14 of the 25 WNC counties. Caldwell, Rutherford and Avery had the largest decreases in unemployment rates, with a 1.0, 0.8, and 0.7 point decrease, respectively. Ashe, Yancey, and Graham had the highest unemployment rate gains, with a 1.5, 1.4, and 0.9 point decrease, respectively. During the past 12 months, all but four WNC counties experienced decreases in unemployment. Unemployment rates in Burke, Catawba, and McDowell decreased the most over this period by 2.2, 1.7 and 1.6 points, while rates in Yancey, Graham, and Ashe all increased by 1.4, 1.0 and 0.4 points. Seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance in the region, a leading indicator of unemployment, increased by 22.8 percent in April. Initial claims increased by 5.2 percent in Asheville and 25.5 percent in Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir.