While unemployment figures improved among many area localities in March, Pulaski County’s rate rose by 2.3 percent.
According to March figures from the Virginia Employment Commission, Pulaski’s jobless rate rose to 12.7 percent in March, but still remained below the March 2009 figure of 13.4 percent. The February rate was 10.4 percent.
Ann D. Lang, chief economist for the VEC, attributed the increase to a temporary layoff at Volvo in late February, which may have “spilled over” into March’s figures.
Nanochemonics employees also entered the ranks of the unemployed in late February, but Lang did not have any information on those estimated 60 job losses. She said her list of layoffs and business closings only include firms that leave 100 or more employees jobless.
Statewide, the unemployment picture improved by a tenth of a point from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent in March. The rate is creeping ever so closer to a year ago, when 6.7 percent of the state’s workforce was idle.
Last month, Pulaski County’s rate was equal to the national rate of 10.4 percent. However, March’s local increase caused it to pull well ahead of the improved March national rate of 10.2 percent. In March 2009, the national rate was almost a full percentage point lower at 9 percent.
According to Lang, March’s unemployment rate often is better than February’s rate due to firms preparing for the tourist season and “increased activity due to milder weather.”
Most jurisdictions bordering Pulaski County saw their rates improve in March, with the exception of Montgomery and Wythe counties and Radford City.
Rates for other surrounding jurisdictions included:
• Radford City – 9.8 percent in March, 9.3 percent in February, and 8.4 percent in March 2009.
• Bland County – 8.3 percent in March, 8.7 percent in February, and 8.5 percent in March 2009.
• Carroll County – 12.9 percent in March, 13.4 percent in February, and 11.6 percent in March 2009.
• Floyd County – 9 percent in March, 9 percent in February, and 8.5 percent in March 2009.
• Giles County – 10.4 percent in March, 12.7 percent in February, and 9.9 percent in March 2009.
• Montgomery County – 7.9 percent in March, 7.8 percent in February, and 7.1 percent in March 2009.
• Wythe County – 11.8 percent in March, 11.7 percent in February, and 11.7 percent in March 2009.
The Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford metropolitan area also saw a small increase in joblessness in March. The unemployment rate for that area as a whole was 9.5 percent, compared with 9.3 percent in February. A year earlier, the rate was 8.4 percent.
The City of Martinsville continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the state at 22 percent – up from 21.4 percent in February and 20 percent in March 2009.
The lowest rate in the state in March went to Arlington County at 4.8 percent.