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Charlotte unemployment drops, some say worst is over

http://66.225.205.104/JR20090925a.mp3

The unemployment rate in the Charlotte region dropped again last month to 11.8 percent, leading some economists to declare the worst is behind us. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Many economists - including Wells Fargo's Mark Vitner - once predicted the Charlotte area unemployment rate would hit 13 percent before it got any better. Instead, the rate topped out at 12.5 percent in June and has declined every month since then. Layoffs have leveled off in the region in recent months, too, which leads Vitner to believe the unemployment rate has already topped out: "It's still a rather modest improvement - I don't expect the unemployment rate to fall month after month after month on a seasonally adjusted basis, but it looks pretty real to me," says Vitner. The Charlotte region's largest job losses were in construction and manufacturing. Vitner says many of those construction workers have left the state, while local manufacturers are starting to bring furloughed workers back on the job. An unemployment rate of 11.8 percent is still painfully high for Charlotte, though. And Economist Rick Kaglic of the Federal Reserve Bank in Charlotte says there is some possibility it could go higher, "if we start seeing more folks coming out looking for jobs, encouraged by the fact that the economy is recovering a little bit." "When they start looking for that job - if they don't already have one - it's going to boost the unemployment rate," says Kaglic. Statewide, unemployment rates dropped in 90 of North Carolina's 100 counties in August.