Va. unemployment hits 17-year high - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Va. unemployment hits 17-year high

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A seven-percent jobless rate means nearly 300,000 Virginians are out of work and at almost eight percent, the unemployment rate in the Richmond-Metro area has more than doubled since this time last year.

Breaking those percents down, it means 50,000 people in our region are out of work right now compared to 24,000 in February 2008.

That's the reason the Virginia Employment Commission had to open up a claims office on Meadowdale Boulevard in Chesterfield last month. They needed more locations to deal with more people filing for unemployment benefits.

The Richmond Metro area has taken some hard hits over the past year, spiking up the jobless rate, and the bad news is it's going to be a long haul.

Experts say once the economy turns around it will take quite a while for unemployment rates to follow suit.

"If we see the world's leaders gathering and still asking, how are we going to fix this economy, that's giving us the hint that we have another at least six months to a year of more negative news coming out," said David Brat, Economics Dept. Chair of Randolph-Macon.

Certain sectors are taking a harder hit than others right now.

"Construction, manufacturing, textiles, all those sectors that traditionally have a hard time, those are competing with the rest of the world and with the recession," said Brat.

Tough economic times are cyclical and Richmond is well-positioned to thrive again once the recession is over.

This area competes with the best of the best nationwide in university's, technology, and a skilled workforce.

"Everyone in the middle of it, it feels awful like it's something abnormal, you're on some new cycle, but odds are if we follow past performance, we are below trend right now, but we are going to come right back up but it will take a couple years to do that," said Brat.

The last time Virginia saw an unemployment rate of seven percent was February of 1992.

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