North Carolina releases new unemployment data in an atmosphere of stumbling growth and months of double-digit joblessness.
The state announces unemployment figures for December on Friday. North Carolina's unemployment rate already has hovered near its historic high of around 11 percent for ten straight months. The peak was 11.1 percent in May.
The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, showing jobs across the country remain scarce six months after the national economy began to climb out of recession.
Economists forecast a weak jobs recovery this year as worried consumers hold down spending and banks limit lending to small businesses, which generate most new jobs.