Jobless rate falls for Clarke County, Frederick and city

Posted: January 14, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Clarke County continues to post unemployment figures that are among the lowest in the commonwealth.

Of the 7,805 Clarke County residents in the civilian labor force, 320 — 4.1 percent — didn’t have jobs in November, according to statistics from Virginia Labor Market Information.

That is down from 4.3 percent in October and level with September’s rate.

In November 2012, the rate was 4.9 percent.

Arlington County, at 3.2 percent, had the lowest unemployment rate statewide in November. Martinsville had the highest at 13.7 percent.

Frederick County was just behind Clarke County in November, with an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, which compares to 4.6 percent in October and 4.5 percent in September.

In November 2012, Frederick County’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent.

At 5.5 percent, Winchester had a higher unemployment rate in November than the state’s 5 percent. It was considerably lower than the 6.6 national rate, however.

In October, Winchester’s unemployment rate was 6 percent, while Virginia’s was 5.5 percent and the national rate was 7 percent.

Winchester’s September unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, compared to 5.3 percent for the state and 7 percent for the U.S. overall.

The city’s employment rate in November 2012 was 5.7 percent. That compares to a Virginia rate of 5.4 percent and national rate of 7.4 percent.

Virginia Employment Commission Winchester office manager Donna Holloway didn’t have a detailed comment on the latest statistics.

“At this time I really don’t because the unemployment rates kind of fluctuate,” she said Monday morning. “New unemployment rates are going down, according to all the statistics I look at. People entering into unemployment, those rates are going down. New claims filed are going down.”

But, that doesn’t mean there are enough jobs out there.

“The problem is that we still have a lot of people unemployed,” Holloway said.

She encouraged employers to start hiring more.

“I know that they’ve got to look at their bottom line,” Holloway said. “We really need to get people back to work to help all the economy.”

The Associated Press reported that the lowest percentage of working-age Americans since 1978 — 63.2 percent — were on the job in 2013 or looking for work.

This so-called labor force participation rate was 67.1 percent in 1998.

The AP attributes the downgrade to the recession and retiring baby boomers.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com