Unemployment rate on rise statewide, according to newly released figures

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The unemployment rate is on the rise in the commonwealth. That's according to new numbers released by the Virginia Employment Commission. The most recent unemployment figures are from January.

It shows a slight hike in the number of unemployed Virginians statewide - from 6.7 percent in December of last year to 7.6 percent in January this year. Seasonal employment is one reason for the increase.

"We had retail releasing some extra holiday workers. You had leisure and hospitality which also released some workers," said Ann Lang, Senior Economist with the VEC.

A closer look at the numbers reveal in Richmond unemployment is up from 9.9 percent to 10.6 percent. Chesterfield is up from 6.9 percent to 7.6 percent. Petersburg, who ranked second highest in the state for unemployment last year now ranks fifth.

Despite that dip the city also saw a jump in unemployment from December to January from 13.5 percent to 14.3 percent.

"A lot of the smalls businesses have closed also at the same time it's a reflection of what's happening across the state," said Joanne Williams, spokesperson for Petersburg.

Petersburg city leaders say they're hopeful that percentage will decrease especially as more people move to the area due the Fort Lee expansion. Bonita Denn is also optimistic. She's been unemployed for more than a year and spends much of her time at the library looking for job openings.

"I'd like to be employed in the restaurant industry or anything I can find. I'll take whatever I can get," said Denn.

The VEC says a turnaround is nearing.

"I say have the faith it's going to be looking up," said Lang.

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