North Carolina's jobless rate rose to 9.9 percent in June, the highest level since last fall and the first increase in more than a year.
The increase, from 9.7 percent in May, reflects employers' reluctance to hire as uncertainty about the economic recovery worsens.
And the state budget crunch also took a toll. There were 10,200 fewer government jobs in June, as the state, community colleges and universities eliminated positions.
North Carolina's unemployment rate remains well above the national average, which also rose in June to 9.2 percent. This state has a higher concentration of manufacturing jobs, which were hit hard during the recession.
A year ago, the state rate was 10.5 percent. High fuel costs, a lingering housing slump and other factors have eroded confidence that hiring will rebound quickly in the wake of the recession.
Just this week, Cisco Systems announced plans to cut 6,500 jobs, and bankrupt Borders Group said it will close its remaining 399 stores by September.
With key elections looming in 2012, the stubbornly high jobless rate has become a key political hot button.
The latest figures were released Friday by the N.C. Employment Security Commission. In the release, ESC chairman Lynn Holmes pointed out that Gov. Bev Perdue "continues to make job growth a top priority."
In recent weeks, Perdue has announced planned expansions that are expected to add hundreds of jobs at companies such as Lord Corp. in Cary, Semprius in Henderson, Spirit AeroSystems in Kinston and Time Warner Cable in Charlotte.
But state GOP chairman Robin Hayes rushed to use the gloomy employment report of evidence that Democrats' policies aren't helping job seekers.
"These job figures are a somber reminder that Governor Perdue and President Obama are nothing more than roadblocks to job-creation and we cannot afford another four more years of their failed economic policies,” he said in a release.
While the Triangle continues to fare better than the rest of the state, the local jobless rate is still high by historic comparisons. The May rate was 7.7 percent, after adjusting for seasonal factors.
The ESC is scheduled to release county-specific data for June next Friday.