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Charlotte Area

Slightly better unemployment rate hides bad news

http://66.225.205.104/JR20090424.mp3

The unemployment data for North Carolina counties was released today and seemed to show a glimmer of hope. Rates dropped in more than two-thirds of counties, including the Charlotte region. Still, economists say the news is bad. WFAE's Julie Rose explains: The trouble with these monthly unemployment rates is they don't count everyone. Only people who are out of a job and actively looking for one are included. NC State Economist Mike Walden says that leaves out a lot of people who've just given up. They're officially known as "discouraged workers." "They actually keep track of those folks," says Walden. "And if we were to add those folks to the unemployment roles, it usually adds about a half to a full percentage point to the unemployment rate." Walden says a better gauge of the economy is that North Carolina lost twice as many jobs in March as it did in February. Unemployment in the Charlotte region for March was 11.4 percent, down from 11.7 in February. Raleigh, Winston-Salem and other major metro areas saw similar declines. Economists still predict unemployment to go even higher before the recession ends - topping 13 percent in the Charlotte region.