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City falls to No. 2 in state unemployment rankings
Jobless rate drops to 12.9 in July

Thursday, August 29, 2013

By FROM BULLETIN AND AP REPORTS -

July was the first month since January 2009 in which Martinsville did not lead Virginia’s unemployment rankings.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), Martinsville’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 12.9 percent in July. That was 3.3 percent less than Galax, which took over the top spot for that month.

Layoffs in construction, the wholesale trade and manufacturing pushed Galax’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate to 16.2 percent, the VEC reported. The number of people without jobs there nearly doubled to 551.

Martinsville’s 12.9 percent rate was down from 13.9 in June and 16.3 percent in July 2012, according to VEC data.

With the exception of July 2013 and January 2009, Martinsville has led the state in unemployment every month since May 2007, according to the VEC.

Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said she was more pleased with the drop in the local jobless number than the city’s drop in ranking.

“I’m really excited that we’re still seeing ... the rates going down,” she said. However, “I hate to see any locale take over that top spot,” she added, noting large numbers of layoffs in Galax.

Adkins said she wasn’t surprised to see the unemployment number continue to drop based on feedback she has received from her peers.

“Based off of what I’ve been hearing from the EDC (Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.) and the business community, activity has picked up in areas of job creation, primarily in the service sector,” she said.

“I think there’s a direct correlation between unemployment going down and job activity,” she added.

Adkins also said events such as last week’s job fair sponsored by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce are helping turn the tide in the work sector.

“It just shows how collaborative the Martinsville area is, or Southern Virginia in general,” she said. “I think Southern Virginia ... is changing the story around workforce development, because our talented work force has been underrated” and had not been properly promoted, she said.

Events such as local job fairs and other collaborative efforts in the region are helping reverse that trend, she added.

Lisa Fultz, executive director of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board (WIB), said she has seen an increase in the number of job seekers or businesses seeking help from the WIB.

“Our numbers indicate there’s a little uptick” in use of services offered by the workforce board, she said.

For example, she said, some job seekers “might have some barriers to receiving employment” such as transportation and child care. The WIB helps connect people with those services and offers help with résumé writing and other services.

“It gives the participant a holistic service menu,” she added.

Businesses also work with the WIB to find skilled workers, she said.

Like Adkins, Fultz said the network of businesses is helping reverse the unemployment trend.

“I think that the more we practice collaboration in meeting our customers’ needs, the better we’re going to get” at helping employers find the skilled workers they need and vice versa, she said. “Ultimately, it’s going to help us with driving down our unemployment.”

Henry County ranked No. 16 in the state in July at 9.4 percent, which was up from 9.3 in June. The county rate was down 1.1 percent from July 2012, according to VEC data.

Patrick County’s jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent in July, up from 7.6 in June, which rated it 35th in the state, the VEC reported.

The statewide rate for July was 5.8 percent compared with the national rate of 7.7 percent.

Arlington County had Virginia’s lowest with 3.8 percent in July.

The Danville region had the highest rate among Virginia’s metropolitan regions at 8.5 percent.

The Washington metropolitan region that includes Arlington and Alexandria had the lowest rate of 4.6 percent.

 

 
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