The Triangle jobs picture took a turn for the worse in June, confirming the economists' gloomy expectations.
The jobless rate for the Triangle inched up to 8.1 percent, up from 7.8 percent in May.
The regional economy shrunk by 500 jobs.
And the number of people looking for work also decreased by 1,000.
All three measures, issued this morning by the N.C. Employment Commission, show that the Triangle's economy is moving backwards. The figures are seasonally adjusted by Wells Fargo in Charlotte.
"It's hard to be too optimistic," said Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner. "The economy has much less momentum than we previously thought."
Vitner said June typically brings a temporary slowdown as school lets out and students and teachers flood the job market. But much of the problem this time comes from a runup in consumer prices, particularly gasoline and food.
The nation's gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced, was an anemic 1.3 percent in the second quarter. "Anything less than 2 percent will push up unemployment," Vitner said.
Plus, cutbacks in state and local goverment spending across the nation were 3.4 percent in the first quarter and 3.4 percent in the second quarter. Government spending has been one of the most reliable sources of revenue for a broad range of businesses in the private sector.
Locally, that dropoff resulted in a loss of more than 2,000 jobs in government in June, the single biggest source of job depletion in the Triangle.
For the economy to sustain a healthy recovery, the Triangle would have to gain at least 20,000 jobs this year, but as of mid-year the job gain is less than 4,000.