By Randy Arrington
LURAY, March 24 — On Friday, the Virginia Employment Commission released January 2021 Local Area Unemployment Rates that showed Page County continues to post the highest jobless rate in the region and now ranks 114th in the state for the most recent month reported.
With 896 claims for unemployment insurance among a workforce of 11,811 — Page County reported a jobless rate of 7.6 percent for January 2021. Employment in the county totaled 10,915.
Page County had shown a steady decline in unemployment through the third and fourth quarters of 2020, dropping from 7.5 percent in July to 4.3 percent in November. However, with seasonal layoffs across the county, particularly in the lagging tourism industry as well as a slow down in construction during the winter, Page’s unemployment rate has jumped more than three points in the last three months. One year ago, Page posted a jobless rate of 5.4 percent.
Unemployment insurance claims in Page County increased by 97 compared to December, and by 251 over January of 2020. The number of employed workers in the county decreased by 142 from December, while 445 more people were employed in the county one year ago.
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 a regional unemployment rate of 5.1 percent for January 2021, with surrounding counties all posting jobless rates ranging from about 4 to 5.6 percent. The planning district reported a jobless rate of 2.8 percent one year ago.
While most localities across the region saw the typical upswing in unemployment claims that comes with the off-season slowdown of winter, Page County showed the largest increase month-to-month. Clarke and Rappahannock counties actually saw a small decrease in unemployment from December to January, while others across the region reported small increases of only two- to four-tenths month-to-month. Four local jurisdictions tallied among the state’s Top 10 for the lowest unemployment.
Here’s a look at unemployment rates across the region for January 2021 and their rank among Virginia’s 134 counties and cities:
• 3.5% — Madison County, 1st;
• 4.0% — Rappahannock County, 4th;
• 4.1% — Clarke and Frederick counties, tied for 5th;
• 4.4% — Rockingham County, 17th;
• 4.9% — City of Winchester, 35th;
• 5.2% — Shenandoah County, tied for 46th;
• 5.3% — Warren County, tied for 49th;
• 5.6% — City of Harrisonburg, tied for 62nd;
• 7.6% — Page County, tied for 114th.
December’s lowest unemployment rate in Virginia was once again reported in Madison County at 3.5 percent. The month’s highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth of 14.9 percent was again reported in the City of Petersburg — one of only four localities in the state with double-digit unemployment.
Virginia posted a statewide unemployment rate of 5.7 percent for January 2021. One year ago, the Commonwealth posted a jobless rate of 2.8 percent.
Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 6.8 percent — up three-tenths from 6.5 percent in December, but up nearly three points from 4 percent in January 2020.