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TRIANGLE EMPLOYMENT GROWS, WHILE CAR AND RETAIL SALES SHOW GAINS

 RALEIGH, N.C., July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Employment in the Raleigh- Durham MSA has grown at a 4.1 percent rate this year, and May unemployment is lower than last year. Car and retail sales also are up in the Triangle, while homebuilding and airport boardings have shown gains as well.
 Commercial construction is the only economic indicator showing decline in the First Union Triangle Perspectives report, released today.
 "A solid employment base continues to fuel the consumer side of our Triangle economy, while healthy activity at the airport is one barometer of a strong business environment as well," said Jim Fain, First Union's Triangle regional executive. "Only commercial construction permitting is lagging in this economic recovery."
 Average employment growth in the first five months of this year has been estimated at 4.1 percent, following the 4.5 percent in 1992. May's unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, down from 3.9 percent a year ago. That represents 17,300 job seekers, or 3,000 fewer than the peak last June. Although unemployment is down, the number of job-hunters actually has increased by 100 because the total labor force is growing at an unusual rate -- 4.6 percent over the past 12 months, rather than the 2.5 percent average of the past five years.
 A growing labor force has led to strong retail sales -- up a notable 16.0 percent in the first quarter, to more than $2.1 billion, with Wake, Durham and Orange counties all reporting increases. New car and light truck sales also were up in all three counties through May, with Durham reporting the highest increase at 24.1 percent.
 Single-family home permits increased 8.1 percent through April for the Triangle overall, although Durham County reported a dip of 5.7 percent. Wake permitted 1,945 homes, an 11 percent increase over last year and the highest total in seven years. Orange permitted 234 homes, an 8.3 percent increase.
 "The increase in home-building this year is particularly significant because it's being compared to such a strong level of activity in 1992," Fain said. "The fact that we've been able to sustain this strong upward trend reflects our growing labor force and Raleigh's drawing power as an attractive place to live and work."
 Multifamily construction in Wake was up 9.5 percent, with 243 units permitted through April of this year. Durham County permitted two units in the first four months, compared to four units in the same period last year; Orange County has permitted no units this year. Fain said he expects to see a solid increase in these numbers this year.
 In the commercial construction sector, Wake permitted $30.5 million through April, continuing the decline since 1991. Durham permitted $36.9 million, down from $51.6 last year, while Orange permitted $8.0 million, a 370.2 percent gain over last year.
 Boardings at Raleigh-Durham International Airport through May totaled 2,050,694, up 6.8 percent over the first five months lasts year.
 The First Union Perspectives program also tracks the economy on an ongoing basis in Charlotte, Western N.C., the Triad and Southeast N.C. Results are reported in each market three times per year.
 First Union National Bank of North Carolina is a principal subsidiary of Charlotte-based First Union Corporation (NYSE: FTU FTUpr) and operates 249 offices throughout the state.
 -0- 7/1/93
 /CONTACT: (Media) Sandy Deem of First Union Corporation, 704-374-2710/
 (FTU)


CO: First Union Corporation; First Union National Bank
 of North Carolina ST: North Carolina IN: FIN SU: ECO


MM -- CH006 -- 7602 07/01/93 10:03 EDT
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Date:Jul 1, 1993
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