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Local jobless rate hits 20-year low

SoVaNow.com / November 06, 2019

It’s been nearly 20 years since Mecklenburg County’s employment rate stood at 3.5 percent. The jobless rate fell 0.4 percentage points from 3.9 percent in August to 3.5 percent in September, matching a level last seen in May 2000.

Unemployment in Mecklenburg County hit this low in September even though payrolls rose by only 28 employed persons and the number of available workers fell by 23, according to figures reported by the Virginia Employment Commission on Wednesday.

This is the sixth consecutive month Mecklenburg County has experienced job growth, though the employment-to-population ratio remains fixed at around 40 percent.

The picture was not all rosy, as the drop in the unemployment rate in part reflects a decline in labor force participation. This is shown not only by the loss of available workers but also a decrease in the number of jobless claims, by 51 persons, between August and September. This is also the third consecutive month the county’s work force has shrunk.

Nominal job growth occurred throughout much of Southside Virginia, the exceptions being the City of Danville, which added 99 jobs to its economy, Halifax County with its 57 new jobs, and Charlotte County which lost 36 jobs. Brunswick County’s payroll rose by two jobs, Lunenburg County added one new job and Pittsylvania County’s economy grew by 31 jobs.

Despite a loss of available workers throughout the area and mostly sluggish economic growth, all six counties and the City of Danville saw a significant decline in their unemployment rate.

Charlotte County which was the only nearby county to lose both workers and jobs between August and September. Charlotte saw its unemployment rate fall 0.4 percent from 3.4 percent in August to 3.0 percent in September.

Brunswick County shed 22 workers and saw jobless claims drop by 24 while adding two jobs. Brunswick’s unemployment rate dipped 0.3 percent between August and September, from 4.4 to 4.1 percent.

Halifax County, with its 57 new jobs and 24 fewer people in the active labor force, ended September with a 3.6 percent unemployment rate, down half a point from 4.1 percent in August.

Lunenburg County’s jobless rate fell from 3.3 percent in August to 2.9 percent in September — giving Lunenburg the lowest unemployment rate in the area — and Pittsylvania County’s jobless rate slid from 3.3 percent to 3.0 percent in that same period.

The biggest gains in the area were in the City of Danville, which added 99 new jobs and 13 workers to its labor force. With 86 fewer unemployment claims filed, Danville’s jobless rate fell from 4.9 percent in August to 4.4 percent in September.

The unemployment rate in Virginia slid 0.3 percent from 2.8 percent in August to 2.5 percent in September. At the same time the U.S. jobless rate went from 3.8 percent to 3.3 percent despite the second straight month during which manufacturing activity fell across the country.

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