Jobless rates decline for area localities
Posted: October 4, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Unemployment rates dropped from July to August in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties.
Preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Frederick County’s unemployment rate for August at 5.2 percent, down from 5.4 percent in July and 5.9 percent in August 2011.
The rate for Winchester declined from 7 percent in July to 6.9 percent in August — a drop from 8.5 percent August 2011.
Clarke County’s unemployment rate was the lowest at 4.8 percent, down from 5.2 percent in July and 5.2 percent in August 2011.
The state as a whole had a 5.8 percent unemployment rate in August, lower than the national rate of 8.1 percent.
According to the Associated Press, unemployment rates fell in August in nearly 90 percent of large U.S. metro areas, mainly because more people gave up looking for work.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that unemployment rates dropped in 329 large cities, the most in four months. Rates rose in 24 cities and were unchanged in 19, the Associated Press reported.
Donna Holloway, manager of the Winchester office of the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), said in a recent interview that the unemployment rate typically increases during summer months and declines in the fall.
The VEC is continuing efforts to prepare the unemployed for a modernized labor market — especially the use of technology — but progress can be slow.
“It frustrates a lot of people,” Holloway said.
But people can’t wait around for a new influx of manual labor jobs, she added.
The stabilization and improvement of the local job market is also helping the Winchester-area housing market, according to Craig Alexander, president of the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors, a trade group representing Winchester and Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties.
Prices are on the rise, he said.
The average sale price of a three-bedroom house in Winchester in August was up 13 percent compared to the same time last year, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence, which produces housing market statistics.
When unemployment decreases, it can start a ripple effect that raises home values.
There are fewer bank-owned properties — aided by an improving job market — and houses are selling for higher prices, Alexander said.
“Confidence is returning to the marketplace,” he said.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org