Raleigh, NC -- North Carolina's unemployment rate dropped slightly in October to 10.4 percent.
The state Division of Employment Security said Tuesday that compared with a rate of 10.5 percent in September, after the state added 5,500 non-farm jobs.
It's the fourth straight month that the state's unemployment rate has hovered above 10 percent. The national unemployment rate is 9 percent.
Employment Security Assistant Secretary Lynn R. Holmes pointed out that private sector employment has grown in eight of the last 10 months.
"There was a modest decline in the unemployment rate, but there is still a great deal of work ahead," Holmes said. "None of us will be satisfied until every North Carolinian who wants a job has one."
With the total number of people working statewide topping 4 million, the number of unemployed decreased by 8,273 to 466,568.
Since this time last year, the number of people unemployed statewide has increased by 25,868, with about 10,000 of those jobs lost in the government sector, according to the state report. The state unemployment rate in October 2010 was 9.9 percent.
The unemployment rate has been a monthly topic in the state capital, with Republicans hammering Gov. Bev Perdue over the slow pace of recovery and Democrats pointing the finger at public sector layoffs triggered by cuts to the state budget authored by GOP legislators.
Michael L. Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University, said Tuesday's report offers little new hope for the long-term unemployed, especially those who have been unable to find full-time work for more than a year.
Still, he said, even a modest gain in the monthly numbers is better than the alternative.
"It was a positive report," Walden said. "We posted gains, but we are still down about a quarter million jobs from before the recession. The unemployment rate is twice what it was. But at least this is a step in the right direction."
MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press