Virginia's unemployment rate drops in October

AP News
Posted: Dec 02, 2009 12:08 PM

Virginia's unemployment figures dropped to the lowest rate in 2009 during October and remained below the national average, according to numbers released by the Virginia Employment Commission on Wednesday.

The seasonally unadjusted rate fell from 6.5 percent in September to 6.3 percent in October and has been declining since June, when it topped 7.3 percent, the state agency said. The seasonally adjusted rate remained steady at 6.6 percent.

"It appears to be that things are getting better in Virginia," said William F. Mezger, the commission's chief economist.

The number of jobless workers declined by 8,400 to 270,100. The state agency said the rate improved as public and private schools ramped up employment and fewer students sought jobs. Virginia normally sees the best unemployment rates in the last quarter of the year when the holiday season creates extra jobs in retail, transportation and food service, the agency said.

Mezger warned that the unemployment rate is expected to have increased in November as more people sought holiday jobs, but should fall back to the October range in December as holiday job seekers are hired.

Virginia's rate remained well below the U.S. average of 9.5 percent. The state's seasonally adjusted rate of 6.6 percent was the seventh lowest in the country, following North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, Utah and Vermont.

Employment improved in all of Virginia's 10 metropolitan areas. The Danville region remains highest with 11.2 percent unemployment.

Arlington County had the lowest jobless rate at 3.9 percent. In addition, Fairfax, Loudoun, James City, York, Stafford, Albemarle, Mathews, Spotsylvania and York counties, and the cities of Alexandria and Poquoson all had unemployment rates at or below 5 percent.

Martinsville kept the state's highest jobless rate at 19.7 percent. Seventeen cities and counties reported double-digit unemployment.

Virginia's current unemployment rate of 6.3 percent compares with 4.2 percent for October 2008, but has still fared better than most states.