Winchester jobless rate drops to 6.5%

Posted: October 31, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Local unemployment numbers improved in September, following a national trend.

Preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Tuesday, show that the jobless rates in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties all improved compared to the same month in 2011.

The Winchester rate showed the biggest decline, falling from 7.8 percent in September 2011 to 6.5 percent this year. The city’s rate also dropped 0.4 of a percentage point from August to September.

Frederick County’s jobless rate stood at 5.3 percent, a 0.7 of a percentage point decline from the same month last year. The county’s rate was 5.2 percent in August.

Clarke’s rate ticked down from 4.9 percent in September 2011 to 4.7 percent during the same month this year. Its rate in August was 4.8 percent.

“It’s a good sign for the region,” said Randy Collins, president and CEO of the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber — which has about 905 members from Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties.

“In general, there’s a positive attitude. Business orders are up and people are optimistic.”

Collins said he knows some area residents who have been looking for work for a long time and have recently gotten offers.

However, he added, there’s still room for improvement.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 44-month low of 7.8 percent in September — largely because the number of people who said they were employed soared by 873,000.

Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in September.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com