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Jobs scene brightens in region for August

SoVaNow.com / October 06, 2021
Southside Virginia’s economy appears to be on the rise as workers returned to the active labor force and unemployment rates fell in counties across the region in August, according to the latest data from the Virgina Employment Commission.

Mecklenburg County saw 132 workers return to its active labor force in August, to go with 167 new jobs in the county and 35-person drop in the ranks of unemployed workers. The combination pushed down the county’s unemployment rate from 4.8 percent in July to 4.5 percent in August.

The unemployment rate and overall jobless claims are way down from their peaks in April 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic took hold and shut down many businesses.

Mecklenburg County had an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent and 1,332 people filing jobless claims in April 2020, according to VEC data.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, current workplace trends are challenging to interpret, as the pandemic complicates hiring in numerous sectors and defies usual seasonal hiring and layoff patterns.

Though the number of available workers in Mecklenburg County continues to grow, what is not known is how many people have left the labor force because they were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic, or unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic.

To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.

The VEC does not separately report those numbers.

Still, progress appears to be taking place throughout Southside Virginia, if slowly, and despite a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases that began in July.

Between July and August, Halifax County saw its labor pool grow by 355 workers, the number of jobs rose by 415, and unemployment claims fell by 60 persons. The factors pushed the unemployment rate down from 5.1 percent in July to 4.6 percent in August.

Brunswick County’s unemployment rate also fell from 6.5 percent in July to 5.7 percent in August, although the underlying job total were little changed.

The nation’s unemployment rate slid from 5.7 percent to 5.3 percent between July and August. In Virginia, the unadjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.8 percent in August, down from 4.1 percent in July.

Other local unemployment rates are:

Charlotte County: 3.6 percent, down from 4.2 percent in July

Lunenburg County: 3.5 percent, down 0.4 percent from July

Pittsylvania County’s unemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent in July to 3.8 percent in August, and in the City of Danville, the unemployment rate went from 6.9 percent in July down to 6.2 percent in August, a 0.7 percent decrease.



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