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Mecklenburg County job market improves, but not back up to strength / January 06, 2021

Unemployment across Southside Virginia edged downward in November as job and workforce numbers continued to bounce back from the pandemic.

Mecklenburg County saw its unemployment rate fall from 5.8 percent to 5.0 percent between October and November. During the period, 159 workers returned to the labor force and the number of jobs grew by 247, according to the latest Virginia Employment Commission data released on Tuesday.

While the size of the county’s labor force is almost back to its pre-pandemic level — 12,321 active workers in November, compared to 12,384 in February — Mecklenburg’s job market has not yet returned to full strength. Compared to February, Mecklenburg County had 167 fewer jobs available in November, and unemployment claims were up by 104 workers.

Overall, the November jobs report paints a mixed picture across the Commonwealth. Virginia’s top-line unemployment rate fell, from 5.1 percent in October to 4.6 percent in November, and the number of jobs grew by 18,131. However, the available labor pool declined in size, by 4,877 workers, suggesting Virginia’s economy is struggling to get back to its pre-pandemic strength. The number of first-time jobless claims fell by 23,008.

In neighboring Halifax County, the VEC numbers also show an improving job market, albeit one that has a way to go to return to its former strength.

Between October and November, Halifax’s labor force grew by 314 workers, and November brought 380 new jobs and 66 fewer jobless claims. These improvements caused the unemployment rate in Halifax to slide from 5.5 percent in October to 4.9 percent in November.

Yet Halifax continues to lag well behind its workforce numbers from February, before the coronavirus shuttered businesses and slowed economic activity. The overall number of available workers in the labor force and actual job levels remain down significantly from the first of the year.

Other jobless numbers:

» Brunswick County saw its unemployment rate fall from 7.4 to 6.6 percent between October and November, while adding 15 new workers to the labor force and 59 jobs. Brunswick also reported 44 fewer first-time jobless claims.

» Charlotte County’s jobless rate slipped from 4.3 percent in October to 4.1 percent in November.

» Lunenburg County’s rate dipped from 4.9 percent in October to 4.4 percent in November.

At the national level, November unemployment ticked down to 6.4, from 6.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the decrease was primarily attributed to the nearly 600,000 workers who left the labor force.

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