U.S. employment rate drops; N.C. remains high

by: Scott MacFarlane Updated:

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WASHINGTON, D.C. —

The U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 7.8 percent, which is the first time it has been below the 8 percent mark since 2009.

However, North Carolina's rate is much higher at 9.7 percent.

Eyewitness News sat down with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to ask why North Carolina's rate continues to be high.

Solis acknowledged Charlotte is trailing the nation in jobs, but said a lot is being down in the Queen City to turn things around.

"Manufacturing. There's a big thirst for a lot of skilled workers in North Carolina," she said.

The labor secretary said she has been visiting North and South Carolina community colleges, working with them to beef up their training programs for the unemployed and prepare them for the technical skills needed for local manufacturing.

She said banking is rebounding in Charlotte, too, although not as quickly as she would like to see.

Yet, the lines at job fairs are still staggering.

Kati Heffield, a job hunter who used to handle marketing for two Charlotte restaurants, told Channel 9 it's still difficult to land interviews with hiring managers.

"You search for jobs in Charlotte, and there are tons, tons of job postings," Heffield said. "The trick is finding the one for which you're qualified and that you want to do."

The former head of General Electric caused a buzz Friday when he speculated the jobs number were cooked, tweeting "these Chicago guys will do anything. Can't debate so change numbers."

"That's ludicrous for people to say that," Solis said. "We have statisticians, economists who are detached from any kind of political manipulation."