by Jordan Green

Monitoring the economic pulse of the Triad

State economy showing signs of modest improvement

North Carolina gained 17,000 non-farm jobs in January and over the past year the state has charted an addition of 50,600 jobs, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the NC Employment Security Commission. Unemployment across the state remains at 10.2 percent — a slight improvement over the 10.5 rate recorded 12 months ago. But North Carolina remains about 2 percentage points behind the national unemployment rate, suggesting the recovery here is lagging behind the rest of the country.

The commission noted that when unemployment numbers are seasonally adjusted, the trade, transportation and utilities sector, along with professional and business services and manufacturing, saw slight gains, while leisure and hospitality and construction have taken hits.

Chapel Hill economist John Quinterno said the January numbers contained good news, but expressed caution about the state’s longterm prospects.

“New data suggest that North Carolina’s labor market performed somewhat better in 2011 than first thought,” he said in a prepared statement. “While the job picture appears less bad than previously perceived, that is not the same as saying that the picture looks bright. By any objective measure, North Carolina’s job market remains depressed and continues to make little progress toward undoing the effects of a recession that started four years ago.”