Unemployment improved by half a point in Pulaski County during February, but a slight increase in statewide unemployment figures are being attributed to major snowstorms.
Due to the heavy snows, Ann D. Lang, chief economist for Virginia Employment Commission, said March figures will have to be analyzed “to get a better grasp on what is happening in Virginia’s labor market.”
Virginia’s February unemployment rate of 7.7 percent was the highest rate in the state since the February 1983 rate of 8.1 percent, Lang said. This past February’s rate is a tenth of a point above the January rate of 7.6 percent and seven-tenths above the 7 percent rate in February 2009.
In Pulaski County, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for February was equal to the national rate of 10.4 percent. Both Pulaski County’s and the nation’s rates of 10.9 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively, were higher in January. In February 2009, the local rate was 9.9 percent, or a full percentage point above the national rate of 8.9 percent.
Although the jobs picture improved in Pulaski County during February, most bordering counties saw their rates rise. Only Montgomery County registered a reduction from 8.3 percent in January to 7.8 percent in February. Montgomery’s rate in February 2009 was 6.9 percent.
Rates for other surrounding jurisdictions included:
• Radford City – 9.3 percent in February, 10.9 percent in January, and 8.1 percent in February 2009.
• Bland County – 8.7 percent in February, 8.2 percent in January, and 7.9 percent in February 2009.
• Carroll County – 13.4 percent in February, 13.3 percent in January, and 11.7 percent in February 2009.
• Floyd County – 9 percent in February, 8.8 percent in January, and 10.1 percent in February 2009.
• Giles County – 12.7 percent in February, 10.7 percent in January, and 9.4 percent in February 2009.
• Montgomery County – 7.8 percent in February, 8.3 percent in January, and 6.9 percent in February 2009.
• Wythe County – 11.7 percent in February, 11.6 percent in January, and 10.4 percent in February 2009.
The Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford metropolitan area also saw improvement in joblessness in February. The unemployment rate for that area as a whole was 9.1 percent in February and 9.4 percent in January. A year earlier, the rate was 8 percent.
The City of Martinsville continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the state, with a February rate of 21.4 percent and a January rate of 21.6 percent. Even a year ago that city’s rate was well into the double digits at 20.3 percent.