RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s unemployment rate reached an 11-year low of 4.2 percent in June, a drop that one economist described as a mirage.

N.C. State University economics professor Mike Walden tells the Winston-Salem Journal the decrease is a mirage because it’s partially attributable to people dropping out of the job market in addition to employer hiring.

The state Commerce Department reported Friday the rate dropped 0.3 percentage points from May, marking the first time since February 2015 that the state rate was below the U.S. rate, which was 4.4 percent.

The previous state low was 4.3 percent in May 2006.

Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner says a year-long look at North Carolina’s job market shows the state’s labor force has grown faster than the nation’s over the past 12 months.

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