By MELINDA WILLIAMS
The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metro area has been recognized as a leader in the nation when it comes to job creation between October 2011 and October 2012.
According to a report by 24/7 Wall St. (247wallst.com), the local metro area was listed second only to Lafayette, La. for job growth during that 12-month period. The growth was attributed, in part, to increased manufacturing jobs from plants such as Phoenix Packaging in Dublin.
The financial news and opinion website points out the last few months of available jobs figures in 2012 show a spike in employment in the NRV. The report says there were 8 percent more jobs available in the New River Valley in October 2012 than were available just three months earlier, in July.
“Joblessness has fallen significantly in the past several months” in the NRV metro area, states the report, which indicates the unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent of the workforce of 91,985 in July to 5.6 percent in October.
“City officials have credited Virginia Tech for directly and indirectly boosting jobs,” the website’s report states. “However, manufacturing has also boomed in the area, with companies such as Phoenix Packaging and Aeroprobe Corporation (Blacksburg) moving jobs into the region.”
In an early-December regional economic update from New River Valley Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Aric Bopp, Bopp pointed out that the NRV is “on pace to set a record for investment in the region this year.” He said 2012 investment in the region was at $370 million at that point and could exceed $400 million by year’s end.
“Just to keep things in perspective, $20 million in new investment is generally considered a ‘good year,’” he said.
According to the 24/7 report, the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in October was the lowest in four years. The report added that the 135 million people who worked in nonfarm jobs nationwide in October was an increase of 1.8 million over October 2011 figures.
“While much of the total jobs growth occurred in … larger cities, several smaller regions … benefited much more proportionally, increasing the number of jobs in their metropolitan areas by more than 5 percent,” the 24/7 reports.
The website goes on to say that most of the metro areas that added jobs were in the South. It attributed the gain in jobs partly to the oil and energy industry, but also to manufacturing, which accounted for 60 percent of October’s jobs.
According to 24/7, its calculations were based on comparisons of October 2011 and October 2012 non-seasonally adjusted employment figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.