North Carolina's unemployment rate hit its highest peak last month in more than 30 years as the recession continues to ravage the state's economy.
The statewide jobless figure reached 11.2 percent in December, representing the loss of 2,400 jobs during the month, the N.C. Employment Security Commission reported this morning. It's the highest jobless rate since the state began tracking the figure in 1976 using the current methodology.
December's jobless rate surpasses the previous month's statewide rate of 10.8 percent. The nationwide jobless rate was 10 percent for December.
Most of the state's job losses last month came in leisure and hospitality, where 2,600 jobs were shed last month. The biggest employment gains came in professional and business services, which gained 1,900 jobs.
Since the recession began in December 2007, the state has lost 248,000 jobs. During the same time, the state has paid out more than $6.5 billion in unemployment benefits to 675,300 people.
When the recession began, in December 2007, the benefits were limited to 26 weeks, but Congress has since extended the benefits to a maximum of 99 weeks.