Local month-over-month unemployment numbers improved in June, the month after Gov. Roy Cooper lifted some coronavirus business restrictions and the state entered its phase two reopening May 22.
The rates are not seasonally adjusted, and all counties in the state experienced year-over-year increases.
The June rates in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties each dropped from May this year, according to a news release Wednesday from the N.C. Department of Commerce.
"It is most likely the result of re-openings as the largest gains in employment for the Metro [New Hanover and Pender counties] area were in Trade (which includes retail trade employment) and Leisure and Hospitality," said Adam Jones, a regional economist, in an email Wednesday.
He added, "It is heartening to see that all categories, except government, added employment versus the previous month. It will be very interesting to see what happens as PPP loans run out and Federal unemployment benefits are potentially reduced.
"We could see more folks seriously looking for work again as well [as] employment pullback in response to PPP and renewed virus disruptions."
New Hanover's rate was 13.8% in May, dropping to 7.6% in June (up from June 2019's 3.8%). Brunswick and Pender counties' rates showed similar changes, with Brunswick County's June rate at 8.5% (from 15.1% in May) and Pender's at 6.7% (from 11.5 in May).
As usual, the release stated, "It is important to note that employment estimates are subject to large seasonal patterns; therefore, it is advisable to focus on over-the-year changes in the not seasonally adjusted estimates."
The governor's order that went into effect May 22 allowed restaurants to open for on-premises dining with limits on occupancy, specific requirements for disinfection of common spaces and 6 feet between each group of customers at each table.
The order also allowed overnight camps to operate; personal care, grooming, massage and tattoo businesses to open with specific requirements for disinfection of equipment, face coverings for the service providers, 6 feet of distance between customers and at 50% reduced occupancy; among other eased restrictions.