Unemployment rates continue to decline

The chart above shows the Weekly Unemployment Insurance Claims Activity for filing weeks between May 16 and December 26, 2020. (Virginia Employment Commission)

Unemployment rates in Henry and Patrick counties and the City of Martinsville are continuing to decline, according to the most recent data from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC).

The unemployment rate in Henry County decreased from 7.3 percent in October to 6.1 percent in November, data showed. The number of jobless was 1,426, which is nearly double the total of the same time frame last year, data suggested.

In the City of Martinsville, the unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent in November, which

represented a nearly two percent drop for the locality from October. Of the city’s total 5,599 civilian workforce, 534 are unemployed.

Patrick County also experienced a decline in the unemployment rate, with of 4.8 percent in November. This was a drop of 1.1 percent from October. The locality is 1.7 percent away from matching the unemployment rate of November 2019.

The VEC data also indicated the number of continued claims filed during the December 26 filing week dipped below 65,000 and to its lowest level since early May.

For the same week, the figure for seasonally unadjusted initial claims in Virginia was 11,890. The latest claims figure was a decrease of 2,750 claimants from the previous week and fell to its lowest level in over a month.

In the most recent filing week, continued weeks claimed totaled 63,443, which was a 6.0 percent decrease from the previous week, but 44,346 higher than the 19,097 continued claims from the comparable week last year. Over half of claims were in the accommodation/food service, health care, administrative support, and retail trade industries. 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.

Nationwide, in the week ending December 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 787,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 803,000 to 806,000. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 841,111 in the week ending December 26, a decrease of 31,736 (or -3.6 percent) from the previous week. There were 312,524 initial claims in the comparable week in 2019. Looking at preliminary data, half of states reported increases on a seasonally unadjusted basis. New York’s preliminary weekly change (+9,247) was the largest increase among states. California’s preliminary weekly change (+8,961) was the second largest increase. Kentucky’s preliminary weekly change (+4,144) was the third largest increase. Virginia’s preliminary weekly change (+3,326) was the fourth largest increase.

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