Page County unemployment climbs to 5.6% in December

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By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Feb. 9 — Last week the Virginia Employment Commission released December 2020 Local Area Unemployment Rates that showed Page County has the highest unemployment rate in the region and ranks 107th in the state for the most recent month reported.

With 648 claims for unemployment insurance among a workforce of 11,647 — Page County reported a jobless rate of 5.6 percent for December 2020.

Page County had shown a steady decline in unemployment over the past five months, dropping from 7.5 percent in July to 4.3 percent in November. However in December, the county saw the workforce decrease by 147 (or 1.2 percent), while unemployment insurance claims rose by 153 (or 31 percent) compared to the previous month.

In contrast to December 2019, Page County has seen its workforce shrink by 3.3 percent (396 jobs). Jobless claims rose 24.4 percent compared to the same month last year, with an additional 127 people out of work. One year ago, the county’s unemployment stood at 4.3 percent.

During the initial surge of unemployment claims being filed in late March and early April when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the region, Page County saw a peak of 556 claims filed in just one week (April 4). The month of April saw a total of 1,507 claims for unemployment insurance filed in the county.

The Lord Fairfax Planning District reported an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent for December 2020, with surrounding counties all posting rates ranging from about 3 to 4 percent. The planning district reported a jobless rate of 3.6 percent in November, and 2.3 percent one year ago.

While all localities across the region saw the typical seasonal upswing in unemployment claims that comes with winter, Page County showed the largest increase month-to-month — climbing from 4.3 percent in November to 5.6 percent in December, an increase of 1.3 percent. The next highest jump in the region was seen in the City of Harrisonburg, which rose from 3.9 percent a month ago to 4.4 percent in December.

Here’s a look at unemployment rates across the region for December 2020 and their rank among Virginia’s 134 counties and cities:

• 3.3% — Rockingham County, tied for 4th;

• 3.4% — Frederick County, tied for 8th;

• 3.5% — Clarke County, tied for 13th;

• 3.9% — Shenandoah County, tied for 31st;

• 4.0% — City of Winchester, tied for 37th;

• 4.3% — Warren County, tied for 52nd;

4.4% — City of Harrisonburg, tied for 58th;

5.6% — Page County, tied for 107th.

December’s lowest unemployment rate in Virginia was reported in Madison County at 2.8 percent. The month’s highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth of 11.9 percent was reported in the City of Petersburg — the only locality in the state with double-digit unemployment.

Virginia posted a statewide unemployment rate of 4.7 percent for December 2020 — up two-tenths from 4.5 percent in November. One year ago, the Commonwealth posted a jobless rate of 2.4 percent.

Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 6.5 percent — up one-tenth from 6.4 percent in November, but up more than two points from 2.4 percent in December 2019.

For additional information on who is claiming unemployment insurance in Virginia, access the VEC’s U.I. claims data dashboard (



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