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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains at 9.7 percent for the third straight month, as the state shed more than 7,000 jobs.

The state Employment Security Commission reported Friday that the jobless rate for May remains the same as in March and April. The national unemployment rate in May was 9.1 percent.

The biggest job loss during the month came in the professional and business services sector, which cut about 4,000 positions. Other notable losses occurred in education, health services and government.

The numbers are an improvement over this time a year ago. In May 2010, the jobless rate stood at 10.8 percent. Since then, the number of people working has increased by more than 15,000.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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