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Jobless rate drops, so does number of jobs / April 17, 2013
The jobs picture in Mecklenburg County brightened somewhat in February after a dismal start to the year as unemployment dipped to 9.9 percent. The rate had been 10.7 percent in January.

Despite the gains, the county also witnessed a decline in the size of its labor force, suggesting that some workers may have given up finding a job and dropped out of the employment ranks altogether.

The number of jobless workers dropped by 126, but at the same time, total jobs also declined — by 139.

The February report of the Virginia Employment Commission, released this week, showed declining rates in most Southside Virginia counties — in large part due to the end of a seasonal employment slowdown that is typical for January.

There were 11,686 people with jobs in Mecklenburg County in February, compared to 11,825 in January.

In February 2012, there were 12,197 total jobs reported in Mecklenburg.

The loss of positions is likely the result of plant closings in the South Hill area, which would have begun to show up in the reported figures for February.

Across Southside Virginia, other counties saw significant declines in their jobless rates, although in most cases the trend reflected a shrinking baseline of workers, rather than an upswing in job creation.

In Brunswick County, the jobless rate dropped one percent, from 11.4 percent in January to 10.4% in February,

In Halifax County, the jobless rate dropped six-tenths percent from 9.9% in January to 9.3 percent in February.

Lunenburg County’s rate went from 9.3 percent in January to 8.4 percent in February.

In Charlotte County, which has the lowest unemployment in the area, the rate went from 8.4 percent% in January down to 8.1 percent in February.

Despite the seeming improvement, Brunswick and Lunenburg Counties saw a decline in the number of jobs available. Brunswick lost 57 jobs and Lunenburg lost 49 jobs.

The two employment categories posting the greatest gains statewide, between January and February, were the construction industry, which posted a 3.8 percent increase in its ranks, and education and health services, whose ranks grew by 1.5 percent.

Across the state, the construction industry added 6,500 jobs. This growth was felt in Mecklenburg County, which saw a modest increase in housing starts. The number of building permits for new houses increased by one, and permits for alterations and additions increased by five over the prior month.

Statewide, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate in February dropped to 5.7 percent, down from 6.2 percent in January. Across the nation, the rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.5 percent in February.

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