Jobless figures both up, down

Posted: March 26, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Local jobless numbers climbed from December to January but remained lower when compared to the same time last year.

Winchester’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in January, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was down from 7.9 percent during the same month last year, but up from 6.1 percent in December.

Frederick County’s rate was 5.4 percent in January, a 0.3 percentage point decrease from January 2012, but up from 4.9 percent in December.

The year-over-year improvement is “gratifying” for Patrick Barker, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission.

A big part of the decrease in unemployment from 2012 is a result of last year’s announcements of nearly 800 new local jobs by companies like Navy Federal Credit Union, Kraft and Carmeuse Lime & Stone, he said.

Unemployment levels often rise from December to January due to retail downsizing after the holiday season, Barker added.

“The increase from December reinforces the need to continue, retain and grow our existing business base as well as recruit new quality businesses and continue to prepare a diverse quality workforce,” he said.

Clarke County’s jobless rate was 5.1 percent, up from 5 percent during the same month last year and also higher than the 4.6 percent level in December.

Employment in the Winchester area peaked in November 2006 at 59,300 jobs but dropped to 53,100 in February 2010.

Since then, the area has gained about 2,700 jobs.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in January, while Virginia’s was 6.2 percent. Martinsville had the highest jobless rate in Virginia at 16.9 percent.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com