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Jobless rate improves in Pulaski, statewide

Although state and local unemployment figures showed slight improvements in July, the figures are most likely a product of the reference week in which they were compiled, a state employment official said.
According to Virginia Employment Commission Chief Economist Bill Mezger, July unemployment figures were compiled during the third week of July this year. Data normally is collected during the week in which the twelfth day falls. This July it was the third week rather than the more typical second week.
Since most vacation furloughs at industries occurred during the weeks of June 28 to July 4 or July 5-11, many furloughed employees were back to work when the reference data was collected this year, Mezger said. Overall, vacation furloughs were up 60 percent over 2008 figures, he added.
The economist said another factor in the improved figures for July was the fact many college students who flooded the job market in early summer had either found a job by the reference week or had stopped looking.
Latest figures show state unemployment dropped from 7.1 percent in June to 6.9 percent in July. In Pulaski County, the jobless rate improved slightly from 12.4 percent (2,322 unemployed) in June to 12.1 percent (2,257 jobless) in July. Nonetheless, Pulaski County still ended up having the seventh highest rate in the state.
A year ago, Virginia’s jobless rate stood at 4.1 percent and Pulaski County’s was 7.8 percent (1,426 without jobs).
Other area unemployment rates for July were as follows:
• New River Valley (Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford combined), 8.8 percent in July; 9.4 percent in June; and 5.8 percent a year ago.
• Radford City: 9.9 percent in July; 10.9 percent in June; and 7.1 percent a year ago.
• Giles County: 8.9 percent in July; 10.1 percent in June; and 5.5 percent a year ago.
• Floyd County: 7.5 percent in July; 8.3 percent in June; and 4.7 percent a year ago.
• Montgomery County: 7.2 percent in July; 7.8 percent in June; and 4.9 percent a year ago.
• Wythe County: 10.9 percent in July; 11.3 percent in June; and 6.2 percent a year ago.
• Carroll County: 10.9 percent in July; 11.5 percent in June; and 7.3 percent a year ago.
Mezger said Martinsville, once again, led the state in unemployment. While most areas showed some improvement from June to July, Martinsville actually saw an increase from 21.3 to 22.1 percent (11.8 percent in July 2008).
He explained that there are about a dozen counties along the North Carolina border that saw increases in joblessness, primarily because of a large number of vacation furloughs being concentrated in those counties. Twenty-four counties along the border experienced double-digit unemployment during July.
The area with the lowest unemployment rate in July was Arlington County with a 4.2 percent rate. Mezger said a heavy concentration of government jobs and jobs in the service industry account for the low rate. Still, he points out, the rate in Arlington County is double what it was a year ago (2 percent).
“Everybody has about doubled what they were a year ago,” he said.
Only four jurisdictions were below the full employment level of 5 percent.
As for August, Mezger said he anticipates rates to increase over July figures because August is typically a “month of transition.” He noted that college and high school students will be leaving their jobs to return to school, thus reducing the workforce.
When about the same number of unemployed are applied to a smaller labor force, higher jobless numbers can result, according to the VEC. However, Mezger said that has not occurred for the past two years.
He said he expects the jobless picture to improve during the fourth quarter of the year since schools will be back in operation and crops will need to be harvested. In many counties, he added, the school system is the single largest employer.
“We usually see seasonal improvements as we get closer to the holidays,” he said, noting the typical need for more employees to handle holiday shopping. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
“The last two years (of holiday figures) haven’t been good, but I’m hoping this year will be.”
According to Mezger, Virginia’s labor force reached a record high 4,210,300 during July, primarily due to expansions in the areas of agriculture and self-employment. He explained that July is typically the peak month for agricultural employment and self-employment typically expands during recessions.
As for the recession, Mezger said Virginia “appears to sort of be bumping along on the bottom.” He said that while there are no signs of improvement yet, the also are no signs the recession is worsening.

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Jobless rate improves in Pulaski, statewide

Although state and local unemployment figures showed slight improvements in July, the figures are most likely a product of the reference week in which they were compiled, a state employment official said.
According to Virginia Employment Commission Chief Economist Bill Mezger, July unemployment figures were compiled during the third week of July this year. Data normally is collected during the week in which the twelfth day falls. This July it was the third week rather than the more typical second week.
Since most vacation furloughs at industries occurred during the weeks of June 28 to July 4 or July 5-11, many furloughed employees were back to work when the reference data was collected this year, Mezger said. Overall, vacation furloughs were up 60 percent over 2008 figures, he added.
The economist said another factor in the improved figures for July was the fact many college students who flooded the job market in early summer had either found a job by the reference week or had stopped looking.
Latest figures show state unemployment dropped from 7.1 percent in June to 6.9 percent in July. In Pulaski County, the jobless rate improved slightly from 12.4 percent (2,322 unemployed) in June to 12.1 percent (2,257 jobless) in July. Nonetheless, Pulaski County still ended up having the seventh highest rate in the state.
A year ago, Virginia’s jobless rate stood at 4.1 percent and Pulaski County’s was 7.8 percent (1,426 without jobs).
Other area unemployment rates for July were as follows:
• New River Valley (Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford combined), 8.8 percent in July; 9.4 percent in June; and 5.8 percent a year ago.
• Radford City: 9.9 percent in July; 10.9 percent in June; and 7.1 percent a year ago.
• Giles County: 8.9 percent in July; 10.1 percent in June; and 5.5 percent a year ago.
• Floyd County: 7.5 percent in July; 8.3 percent in June; and 4.7 percent a year ago.
• Montgomery County: 7.2 percent in July; 7.8 percent in June; and 4.9 percent a year ago.
• Wythe County: 10.9 percent in July; 11.3 percent in June; and 6.2 percent a year ago.
• Carroll County: 10.9 percent in July; 11.5 percent in June; and 7.3 percent a year ago.
Mezger said Martinsville, once again, led the state in unemployment. While most areas showed some improvement from June to July, Martinsville actually saw an increase from 21.3 to 22.1 percent (11.8 percent in July 2008).
He explained that there are about a dozen counties along the North Carolina border that saw increases in joblessness, primarily because of a large number of vacation furloughs being concentrated in those counties. Twenty-four counties along the border experienced double-digit unemployment during July.
The area with the lowest unemployment rate in July was Arlington County with a 4.2 percent rate. Mezger said a heavy concentration of government jobs and jobs in the service industry account for the low rate. Still, he points out, the rate in Arlington County is double what it was a year ago (2 percent).
“Everybody has about doubled what they were a year ago,” he said.
Only four jurisdictions were below the full employment level of 5 percent.
As for August, Mezger said he anticipates rates to increase over July figures because August is typically a “month of transition.” He noted that college and high school students will be leaving their jobs to return to school, thus reducing the workforce.
When about the same number of unemployed are applied to a smaller labor force, higher jobless numbers can result, according to the VEC. However, Mezger said that has not occurred for the past two years.
He said he expects the jobless picture to improve during the fourth quarter of the year since schools will be back in operation and crops will need to be harvested. In many counties, he added, the school system is the single largest employer.
“We usually see seasonal improvements as we get closer to the holidays,” he said, noting the typical need for more employees to handle holiday shopping. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
“The last two years (of holiday figures) haven’t been good, but I’m hoping this year will be.”
According to Mezger, Virginia’s labor force reached a record high 4,210,300 during July, primarily due to expansions in the areas of agriculture and self-employment. He explained that July is typically the peak month for agricultural employment and self-employment typically expands during recessions.
As for the recession, Mezger said Virginia “appears to sort of be bumping along on the bottom.” He said that while there are no signs of improvement yet, the also are no signs the recession is worsening.

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