Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Jobless rates mixed
City's rate still state's highest
Thursday, June 28, 2012
By FROM BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Martinsville’s jobless rate dropped below 15 percent in May but remained the highest in the state, according to data released Wednesday by the Virginia Employment Commission.
The city’s May rate of 14.4 percent was better than both its April rate of 15.9 percent and the 18.5 percent recorded in May 2011, the VEC reported. There were 781 jobless city residents counted in May, down from 876 in April and 1,062 in May 2011.
However, the size of the city’s labor force — which includes people with jobs and those seeking work — also declined. The labor force fell from 5,727 in May 2011 to 5,519 in April and 5,415 last month, the VEC reported.
The reason for the decline was not offered. Officials have said that a shrinking labor force can indicate that people have given up looking for work or have left the area to seek jobs elsewhere.
Henry County’s jobless rate of 9.3 percent in May was one-tenth of a point better than the April rate of 9.4 percent, according to the VEC. It also was an improvement over May 2011, when joblessness in the county stood at 10.6 percent.
Henry County’s rate ranked ninth among Virginia’s 134 localities in May, VEC data show.
Patrick County’s unemployment rate increased slightly, from 7.2 percent in April to 7.4 percent in May. Both rates were an improvement over the May 2011 rate of 9.0 percent, the data show.
Henry County also saw a decline in the size of its labor force, but the opposite was true in Patrick County.
In Henry County, there were 23,600 in the labor force in May, including 2,204 jobless workers. That was down from a labor force of 23,669 in April, when 2,229 workers were jobless.
It also was a decline from May 2011, when Henry County’s labor force stood at 24,092 and the VEC reported 2,548 unemployed workers.
In Patrick County, the labor force in May stood at 8,920, including 656 jobless workers. That was up from April, when the VEC showed 8,751 people in the labor force, 633 of them jobless.
However, Patrick County’s labor force was down from May 2011, when it stood at 9,130 (823 unemployed).
Patrick County’s unemployment rate was the state’s 34th highest in May.
The Martinsville-Henry County micropolitan area showed an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent in May, down from 10.6 percent in April and 12.1 percent in May 2011. There were 29,015 people in the combined labor force in May, down from 29,188 in April and 29,819 in May 2011, the data show.
All the local rates were well above the statewide rate of 5.5 percent for May.
Arlington County in Northern Virginia had the state’s lowest unemployment rate last month at 3.3 percent, the VEC said. Localities with the highest unemployment rates, after Martinsville, were Williamsburg at 12.6 percent; Petersburg at 11.7 percent; Lexington at 11.6 percent; and Danville at 10.4 percent.