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Mecklenburg County gains jobs, but jobless rate increases / July 05, 2017

Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate ticked up in May despite a slight increase in the overall number of jobs compared to the month before.

The May jobless rate came in at 5.0 percent, compared to 4.8 percent in April, according to data released this week by the Virginia Employment Commission.

The higher unemployment rate comes even as the number of workers on the job in the county rose to 11,915, a gain from 11,902 in April.

The upward movement in the jobless rate was fueled by more people joining the active labor force, which stood at 12,537 workers in May. That represents a slight increase from April, and is 114 more workers than the year before, when there were 12,443 members in the May 2016 civilian labor pool.

There were 622 county workers who reported being unemployed in May 2017, a small increase from 606 in April. The active labor force includes those who are working or actively seeking work and drawing jobless benefits from the VEC.

Retirees and persons who have given up actively searching for work are excluded from the civilian labor pool. A growing labor force is generally a sign of an improving economy, as more people are enticed to look for work or postpone retirement in favor of wage earnings.

Mecklenburg’s 5.0 percent unemployment rate in May was in line with what its neighbors experienced during the month. Brunswick County’s May jobless figure was 5.3 percent, Charlotte County’s was 4.9 percent, Halifax County, 5.0 percent, and Lunenburg County, 4.4 percent.

Of those counties, only Mecklenburg and Halifax have shown year-to-year growth in the size of the overall labor pool. Halifax added 43 workers to its rolls, compared to 114 for Mecklenburg, from May 2016 to May 2017.

Unemployment in Southside Virginia continues to outpace the statewide trend. Unemployment in Virginia was 3.8 percent in May. It was 3.7 percent in May 2016. Virginia added 75,390 over the year’s time.

The seasonally unadjusted jobless rate in the U.S. in May was 4.1 percent, an improvement from May 2016 when the rate stood at 4.5 percent.

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