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Mecklenburg County jobless rate soars to 10.7 percent

SoVaNow.com / March 27, 2013
ecklenburg County saw its unemployment rate jump sharply from 9.1 percent in December to 10.7 percent in January. This increase is most likely due to the loss of over 200 jobs as Home Care Industries and International Veneer shut down all or most of their operations in this area.

A third employer, Peebles/Stage Stores also announced that it was closing its corporate headquarters in South Hill, but layoffs at that site are not expected to begin until later this spring. The effect of this closing is yet to be felt in an area, which has not seen any economic recovery

The impact of these closures trickled over to Brunswick County, which also saw its unemployment rate jump nearly two percentage points, from 9.8 percent in December to 11.5 percent in January. Brunswick County has the worst unemployment rate of any County in Southside Virginia. It is also the sixth worst countywide unemployment rate in the State.

Mecklenburg County now has the tenth worst countywide unemployment rate in the State.
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The unemployment numbers are seasonally unadjusted, meaning they do not take into account normal trends for the time of year.
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Ann Lang, Senior Economist with the Virginia Employment Commission, said in a press release that higher jobless rates are "usual for this time of year due to cutbacks in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors after the holidays and winter break closings at public and private schools and colleges." Still the steep increases seen in both Mecklenburg and Brunswick County's unemployment rates far exceed the state average of 0.7 percent.
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In addition to seeing the number of unemployed persons rise, both Mecklenburg County and Brunswick County saw their civilian work force decrease - Mecklenburg's dropped from 13,524 to 13, 247 and Brunswick's dropped from 6,737 to 6,596. Since the civilian work force is made up of those persons actively seeking employment, a decline in that number suggests that several hundred have dropped out of the labor pool and are no longer looking for work.
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Nearby Halifax County continues to suffer economically as its jobless rate jumped to near-double digits in January, reversing months of steady improvement as 143 workers joined the ranks of the unemployed.
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Halifax’s jobless rate in January — 9.9 percent, compared to 8.7 percent the month before, in December 2012 — was less acute than in some comparable areas.

In western Virginia, the impact of shuttered coalmines showed up in that area's unemployment rates. Pulaski County, for instance, posted the highest unemployment rate of any Virginia county, 13.0 percent. Its jobless rate in December 2012 was only 5.4 percent.

In year-to-year comparisons, however, the news was mixed for the state of Virginia. Seasonally adjusted unemployment was unchanged from December to January, with a jobless rate of 5.6 percent, but the raw, unadjusted numbers showed an overall loss of 9,980 jobs.

Elsewhere in Southside Virginia, counties and cities reported the following unemployment rates in January:
Charlotte County, 8.4 percent, up from 7.2 percent in December.

Lunenburg County, 9.3 percent, up from 7.9 percent in December.

Pittsylvania County, 7.5 percent, up from 6.5 percent in December.

The City of Martinsville, 16.9 percent, up from 15.2 percent in December.

Henry County, 10.7 percent, up from 9.2 percent in December.

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