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Charlotte Area

Newcomers boost NC unemployment rate

http://66.225.205.104/JR20090311.mp3

North Carolina's unemployment rate in January was 9.7 percent. That's 2 percent higher than the national rate. Part of the reason North Carolina's unemployment rate has grown so quickly is that people are still moving here by the thousands to find work. Wachovia Senior Economist Mark Vitner calls it "Importing unemployment." He says North Carolina's economy - and Charlotte, in particular - still look promising to job hunters.

"Our population's growing - in the Charlotte region - about three-times as fast as the rest of the country," says Vitner. "I think that the longer-term prospects are still quite bright. In the short-run, I think things are slowing much more than many people realize."

Vitner estimates the Charlotte region has already lost about 1,500 jobs at the big banks and another 3,000 in mortgage banking. He expects the local banking sector to lose at least another 1,000 jobs by summer. But he says manufacturing and construction cuts are having a much larger impact on the region's unemployment rate, which he predicts will reach 12 percent next year.