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Local labor market gains steam with more jobs, more workers

SoVaNow.com / August 08, 2018
Job growth continued in Mecklenburg County for the sixth straight month in June despite a spike in the local unemployment rate, according to the data released this week by the Virginia Employment Commission.

Mecklenburg’s official jobless rate climbed four-tenths of a percent, from 4.2 percent in May to 4.6 percent in June. At the same time, the county added 52 new jobs to its economy and 117 workers joined the labor pool, with the sharp jump in the overall size of the labor force serving to drive up the official unemployment rate.

Since January, Mecklenburg County’s economy has seen the addition of 441 jobs and 325 workers to its labor force.

This growth is in line with state and national trends, which also saw an increase in unemployment rates between May and June. In May, Virginia’s unemployment rate stood at 2.9 percent and the national rate was 3.6 percent. By June, Virginia’s unemployment rate rose to 3.3 percent and the national rate to 4.2 percent.

National economists, noting that the country has seen 93 straight months of growth, attributed the higher jobless percentages to increased participation in the labor force — seen as sign that once-discouraged workers are returning to the active labor pool.

The picture was less upbeat in nearby Halifax County, which saw its jobless rate jump from 3.8 percent in May to 4.6 percent in June as the number of jobs declined by 256 and there were 48 fewer workers in the workforce. Notwithstanding this setback, Halifax County’s economy has grown steadily since January when there were only 14,066 available workers and 13,906 jobs compared to 15,033 workers and 14,344 jobs in June.

Brunswick, Lunenburg, and Pittsylvania counties appeared to follow the national trend as their unemployment rates climbed between two-tenths and seven-tenths of a percent between May and June, while at the same time they also saw an increased participation in their labor forces.

The unemployment rate in Brunswick County leapt from 4.7 percent to 5.4 percent between May and June, while its civilian labor force grew by 46 and the county added three new jobs.

Lunenburg and Pittsylvania saw less drastic upticks in their unemployment rates, and greater job growth and influx of workers. The unemployment rate in Pittsylvania County rose from 3.6 percent in May to 4.0 percent in June while the civilian labor force grew from 12,118 in May to 12,225 in June.

Additionally, Pittsylvania County added 348 jobs during that same period.

In Lunenburg County, the unemployment rate ticked up two-tenths of a percent from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent as its civilian labor force grew by 73 and 62 jobs were added to the economy.

Elsewhere in the region:

Unemployment in Charlotte County ballooned from 3.4 percent in May to 4.2 percent in June, and the city of Danville saw its jobless rate jump from 5.4 percent in May to 6.0 percent in June.

Brunswick County and the City of Danville rank in the bottom 10 among cities and counties in Virginia with the highest unemployment rate: Brunswick County comes in at 127th and Danville at 130th out of 133 localities in the state.

Halifax and Mecklenburg counties are tied at 108th place, Charlotte County comes in 99th, and Pittsylvania County ranks 94th. Lunenburg County has the best rank in the region, sitting 63rd out of 133 localities in terms of its unemployment rate.

The Southside Planning District, which encompasses Halifax, Mecklenburg, and Brunswick counties, is in the bottom three among planning districts with the highest unemployment rate, with an average rate of 4.7 percent for June.



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