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Charlotte area unemployment rises to 10.5 percent

The unemployment rate rose in every single county in North Carolina in January, according to new data released today. The Charlotte region has one of the state's higher rates at 10.5 percent.

The Charlotte region has typically weathered economic downturns better than other parts of North Carolina. But NC State economist Mike Walden says this time is different because two of Charlotte's core industries - banking and auto parts production - have been hit hard.

"I think what that means for the Charlotte economy specifically is that it will not rebound from this recession as it has in the past," says Walden.

At 10.5, the Charlotte region's unemployment rate is one of the highest in North Carolina. It's also fourth highest nationwide among metro areas with more than a million people, surpassing even Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

In addition to having one of the country's top unemployment rates for large regions, the Charlotte area also remains one of the fastest growing with a rate of 3.4 percent. Wachovia economist Mark Vitner says those newcomers are boosting the region's unemployment numbers, because many are coming to look for work.

Vitner and Walden both predict the Charlotte region's unemployment rate will continue to rise, surpassing 12 percent by next year.