By Randy Arrington
LURAY, April 13 — Last Wednesday, the Virginia Employment Commission released February 2021 Local Area Unemployment Rates that show Page County’s jobless claims fell by half a percentage point from January to February, but the county’s current unemployment remains the highest in the region and 112th in Virginia.
With 828 claims for unemployment insurance among a workforce of 11,686 — Page County reported a jobless rate of 7.1 percent for February 2021. Employment in the county totaled 10,858.
Page’s workforce shrunk by 124 from the previous month, while 65 fewer unemployment claims were filed. Compared to February 2020, there were 376 fewer in the labor force countywide and 242 fewer claims for unemployment insurance. One year ago, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Virginia, Page County’s unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent.
In January, Page County posted its highest unemployment rate since July 2020 at 7.6 percent. The seasonal uptick in jobless claims during the winter should continue to decline throughout spring. In November, the local rate stood at just 4.3 percent.
During the initial surge of unemployment claims filed in late March 2020 and early April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the region, Page County saw a peak of 556 claims filed in just one week (April 4, 2020). April 2020 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 4.6 percent for February 2021, with surrounding counties all posting jobless rates ranging from 3.8 to 5.3 percent. The planning district reported a jobless rate of 4.9 percent in January and a rate of 2.5 percent one year ago. Every jurisdiction in the region showed a decrease in jobless claims from January to February, with Page reporting the largest decrease at 0.5 percent.
Here’s a look at unemployment rates across the region for February 2021 and their rank among Virginia’s 134 counties and cities:
• 3.4% — Madison County, 1st;
• 3.8% — Frederick County, 4th;
• 3.9% — Rappahannock County, tied for 5th;
• 4.0% — Clarke County, 8th;
• 4.1% — Rockingham County, 13th;
• 4.8% — Shenandoah County and the City of Winchester, tied for 38th;
• 5.0% — Warren County, tied for 50th;
• 5.3% — City of Harrisonburg, tied for 63rd;
• 7.1% — Page County, 112th.
February’s lowest unemployment rate in Virginia was once again reported in Madison County at 3.4 percent. The month’s highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth of 14.3 percent was again reported in the City of Petersburg — one of only three localities in the state with double-digit unemployment.
Virginia posted a statewide unemployment rate of 5.4 percent for February 2021. One year ago, the Commonwealth posted a jobless rate of 2.5 percent just prior to the pandemic.