WINCHESTER — Initial unemployment claims continued to rise in the Northern Shenandoah Valley in September, with the middle of the month seeing the highest number of initial claims, according to Virginia Employment Commission data.

For the week ending Oct. 2, which is the most recent filing period, Winchester had 108 initial claims. This follows recording 21, 11, 59 and 41 initial claims in consecutive weeks dating back to Sept. 4.

Frederick County had 37 initial claims, preceded by weeks of 19, 10, 91 and 38 claims. Warren County had 28 initial claims, preceded by 10, nine, 43 and 24 claims. Shenandoah County had 16 initial claims, preceded 15, six, 50 and 30 claims. And Clarke County had six initial claims, preceded by three, four, 13 and seven claims.

The statewide figure for seasonally unadjusted initial claims for the week ending Oct. 2 was 9,360. The latest claims figure was an increase of 643 claimants from the previous week.

For the most recent filing week, continued weeks totaled 44,019, which was a decrease of 3,222 claims from the previous week and 73% lower than the 160,764 continued claims from the comparable week last year.

The continued claims total is mainly comprised of those recent initial claimants who continued to file for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twenty localities in Virginia had more than 100 initial claims for the week ending Oct. 2, after 14 localities topped 100 for the final week in August.

The bump in initial claims comes after three months of decreases in area unemployment rates. The jobless rate was down across the region in August, just prior to increases in initial claims in September.

Frederick County’s unemployment rate was the lowest in the region at 2.7%, a 0.2% decrease. Frederick County ranked fourth in Virginia for the lowest unemployment rate, based on VEC data.

Clarke County followed with a jobless rate of 2.9% (down 0.2%), followed by Shenandoah County at 3.1% (down 0.4%), Winchester at 3.2% (down 0.2%) and Warren County at 3.4% (down 0.2%).

Virginia’s unemployment rate in August was 3.8%. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.3%. Both are decreases.

— Contact Matt Welch at

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