The new year saw unemployment rates in all 100 counties in North Carolina increase, including Burke County and the Unifour area.

Burke County’s rate rose to 4.1 percent in January, up from 3.6 percent in December, according to information from the N.C. Department of Commerce. That means that of the 41,024 people in the work force in the county, 1,683 are still looking for work. While its rate increased, Burke ranked at 16 of the 100 counties with the lowest unemployment for the month.

All 15 metropolitan statistical areas also increased, including the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area, whose rate climbed to 4.2 percent in January, up from 3.6 percent in December.

The metro area gained 400 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector over the month, while the manufacturing sector gained 200 jobs during the period.

But the metro area lost more jobs than it gained, with the professional and business services sector lost 600 jobs; the trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 500 jobs; the government sector lost 200 jobs; and the education and health services sector lost 100 jobs over the month, according to the commerce department.

However, over the year, the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro area had a net employment 3,200, according to the commerce department information.

The state unemployment numbers for February is expected to be released Friday, March 22.

Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at or at 828-432-8946.

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