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Jobless rates rise
Martinsville still highest in Va.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Area unemployment rose in June, but fewer people were jobless than a year earlier, the latest Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) figures show.
in the local area, Martinsville — which overall has had the state’s highest unemployment rates for at least a decade — saw the smallest increase.
Martinsville’s jobless rate edged up 0.2 percent, from 14 percent in May to 14.2 percent in June. Henry County’s rate climbed by 0.6 percent, from 9.2 percent to 9.8 percent, while Patrick County’s rate increased by 0.5 percent, from 7.2 percent to 7.7 percent, VEC figures released Wednesday reveal.
The combined unemployment rate for Henry County and Martinsville in June was 10.6 percent, up 0.5 percent from 10.1 percent in May, figures show.
Among 134 localities statewide, Martinsville again ranked first in terms of joblessness in June. Henry County was 10th and Patrick County tied with a few other Virginia localities for 43rd.
According to a VEC website, based on annual averages, Martinsville has had the state’s highest unemployment — averaging 13 percent — for 10 years.
The latest figures were down from June 2011 when the city’s unemployment rate was 18.3 percent, while Henry County’s rate was 11.2 percent and Patrick County’s rate was 9.4 percent, VEC records show.
The VEC now just tracks unemployment rates and does not do analyses or predictions of economic occurrences statewide like it once did, according to Ann Lang, senior economist for the Economic Information Services Division.
Fluctuations in the area labor force — the total number of people who have jobs plus those looking for work — affect monthly jobless rates.
In June, there were 2,388 unemployed people among Henry County’s labor force of 24,299. The county’s labor force amounted to 24,097, with 2,217 looking for jobs, a month earlier. A year before that, 24,173 people were in the labor force with 2,696 on the jobless rolls, statistics reveal.
Martinsville’s labor force in June totaled 5,528, with 783 people looking for work. In May, the city’s labor force totaled 5,507 with 769 people jobless. In June 2011, there were 5,691 people in the labor force with 1,040 searching for jobs, according to VEC statistics.
In Patrick County, there were 9,215 people, including 711 unemployed, in the labor force in June. The county’s labor force amounted to 9,183 in May when 658 were unemployed. In June 2011, there were 9,129 people in the labor force with 854 unemployed, figures show.
Virginia’s statewide unemployment rate jumped by 0.5 percent, from 5.5 percent in May to 6 percent in June. That rate was lower than the national jobless rate, which jumped from 7.9 percent in May to 8.4 percent in June, according to statistics.
Along with Martinsville, the state’s localities with the highest unemployment rates in June included Lexington (13.1 percent), Williamsburg (13 percent), Petersburg (11.9 percent) and Emporia (11.5 percent), figures show.
Among metropolitan areas, Danville-Pittsylvania County had the highest unemployment at 8.7 percent in June, statistics indicate.
Arlington County had the lowest jobless rate at 3.7 percent while Loudoun County had the second lowest rate at 4.2 percent, the VEC reported.