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Mecklenburg jobless rate drops, but growth stalls out / October 07, 2020

The unemployment rate tumbled from 8.2 percent to 6.5 percent from July to August as Mecklenburg County continues to respond to the pandemic downturn.

It is by far the lowest employment rate in Mecklenburg since the statewide lockdown took effect in the spring to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to data released this week by the Virginia Employment Commission.

But while the 1.7 percent decline represents a major improvement in the official unemployment rate, actual job growth in Mecklenburg remains sluggish as the pandemic drags on.

The county added only 13 new jobs to local payrolls in August, bringing the total number of jobs to 11,915. The downturn in Mecklenburg’s unemployment rate is more the result of 212 workers exiting the active labor force, and a decrease in jobless claims by 222 during the period.

Unlike the national trend which saw job creation pick up in August — more than 1.7 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy during the month — the pace of recovery in Mecklenburg County has stalled. The 13 new jobs added in August compare to 74 new jobs in July and 290 in June.

In August 2019, Mecklenburg’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent.

One sector of the local economy that has been relatively unscathed by the pandemic is the construction industry. In August, Mecklenburg County issued 98 residential building permits after authorizing 96 such permits in July. By comparison, in August 2019 the county issued 71 residential building permits and in July 2019 the number was 79.

Elsewhere in Southside Virginia, Halifax County saw the number of jobs and the size of its active workforce grow from July to August. Most other counties either lost both jobs and workers, or lost workers and added fewer jobs than in months past.

Halifax County added 348 jobs in August as the local labor pool grew by 108 workers. With 241 fewer jobless claims filed with the VEC, Halifax saw its unemployment rate fall from 8.1 percent in July to 6.5 percent in August.

Brunswick County lost 130 workers and eight jobs between July and August. Its jobless rate fell 0.3 percent during that period, in part due to 122 people dropping off the local unemployment rolls.

Unemployment figures for other area counties in August are as follows:

» 5.3 percent unemployment in Charlotte County, down from 6.6 percent in July

» 5.6 percent unemployment in Lunenburg County, down from 6.3 percent in July

» 6.0 percent unemployment in Pittsylvania County, down from 7.7 percent in July

» 9.6 unemployment in the City of Danville, down from 11.8 percent in July.

The unadjusted August unemployment rate in the United States was 8.5 percent, and in Virginia it was 6.3 percent.

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