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Mecklenburg County jobless rate declines despite tepid job creation

SoVaNow.com / May 07, 2014
Mecklenburg County has shed jobs over the past year even as the official unemployment rate has declined, according to the latest monthly data released last week by the Virginia Employment Commission.

Mecklenburg’s unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent in February to 8.7 percent in March; at the same time, the county’s labor force expanded for the second straight month, with 125 workers added to the ranks.

However, the overall number of jobs lags behind the level of a year ago, in March 2013, when 11,530 people were at work in Mecklenburg. This March, the county had 11,225 persons on the job, a decline of 305. Last year the March jobless rate in Mecklenburg County stood at 9.1 percent.

The decline of official unemployment is mostly attributable to a shrinking labor pool.

Despite the sluggish pace of progress on the jobs front, Southside Virginia posted some gains in March. Elsewhere in the region,

Brunswick County’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.0 percent in March, from 9.3 percent in February, and its labor force grew by 113.

Halifax County’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in March from 8.7 percent in February, and its civilian labor force expanded by 212 workers.

Charlotte County saw its jobless rate drop from 7.3 percent in February to 7.2 percent in March

Lunenburg County’s jobless rate fell from 6.9 percent in February to 6.6 percent in March.

In contrast to March 2013, when Mecklenburg County had the eighth-highest unemployment rate in the state, this March the county ranked 119th out of 134 Virginia localities.

The counties within the Southside Planning District — Brunswick, Halifax and Mecklenburg — sit at the bottom among the state’s planning regions, with a combined unemployment rate of 8.7 percent.

However, for the second straight month the Southside Planning District saw its unemployment rate fall, and for the fourth straight month its labor pool grew, suggesting that people are once again returning to the work force and finding jobs.

Nationally the unemployment rate fell to 6.8 percent in March, down from the even 7 percent rate in February. However, statewide the jobless rate rose to 5.3 percent in March, up from February’s rate of 5.2 percent.

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