RALEIGH, (AP) — North Carolina's unemployment rate increased slight to 9.6 percent in July but still remains below the rate from the same time last year.
The rate increased from the 9.4 percent June figure, which had held steady for three months. The North Carolina rate remains higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent.
The state unemployment rate in July 2011 was 10.7 percent.
The state Commerce Department says the number of employed people decreased by almost 14,000 to about 4.2 million over the month but increased by about 49,000 over the past year.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled more than 64,000, increasing by almost 18,000 from June. Almost 445,000 people were unemployed in North Carolina in July.
The new numbers drew an immediate response from the Mitt Romney for President campaign. In an e-mail, spokesperson Robert Reid cast the numbers as "more dismal news" for the state.
“Over the last four years, President Obama’s failed economic policies have left us with more unemployment, more debt, and more uncertainty for middle-class families struggling to make ends meet," Reid wrote.
Reaction from President Obama's re-election campaign was not immediately available.
North Carolina is a battleground state in the fall election, with 15 electoral votes at stake. In 2008, then Sen. Obama won the state by just 14,000 votes. Both campaigns consider the state key to an electoral win this year.
Additional information from SGRToday.com