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Jobless rate takes turn for worse as students join labor pool

SoVaNow.com / July 02, 2014
The latest jobs report for Mecklenburg and surrounding counties shows unemployment rates moving in the wrong direction, although the slide is partly seasonal in nature with college graduates and younger students entering the job market.

The unemployment rate for Mecklenburg County jumped from 8.1 percent in April to 8.7 percent in May, the latest month for which figures are available. The county previously posted an 8.7 percent unemployment rate in March 2014.

Both Halifax and Brunswick counties saw similar gains in their unemployment rate. Brunswick County went from an 8.0 percent jobless rate in April to 8.7 percent in May, and Halifax County’s rate climbed four-tenths percent, from 7.6 percent in April to 8.0 percent in May.

Virginia Employment Commission Senior Economist Ann Lang said it “is usual” for counties to see an increase in their unemployment rates between April and May as college graduates and other students enter the labor market. The growth in the civilian labor force and the number of unemployed workers between April and May in Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Halifax counties appears to support Lang’s claim.

In Mecklenburg County the number of people available for work, the civilian labor force, grew between April and May, as did the number of unemployed workers. Mecklenburg County’s civilian labor force was up 144 workers between April and May and the number of unemployed workers grew by 92. Brunswick County’s civilian labor force rose by 31 and the numbered of unemployed workers grew by 52, and Halifax County’s civilian labor force grew by 214 workers and the number of unemployed workers increased by 73.

On a positive note, Mecklenburg County’s ranking in the state rose from 126th place in April to 122nd in May. Brunswick is also ranked 122nd in the state, the same ranking it held in April, and Halifax’s ranking jumped two spots from 118 in April to 116 in May. However, the Southside Planning District (Mecklenburg, Halifax and Brunswick Counties) continues to hold the last place ranking for area unemployment, with an average unemployment rate for the district at 8.4 percent.

Other counties in the area also saw their employment numbers slide backwards. Charlotte County’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.4 percent in May from 6.6 percent in April as its civilian labor force grew by 74 workers the number of unemployed in the County grew by 44. Lunenburg County went from 5.9 percent unemployed in April to 6.9 percent in May as its civilian labor force grew by 62 and the number of unemployed rose by 58.

Nationally the unemployment rate grew to 6.1 percent in May from 5.9 percent in April, and statewide the jobless numbers rose from 4.7 percent in April to 5.4 percent in May.

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