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Posted January 7, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Local jobless rate reaches 5.1 percent

Winchester-area unemployment spiked to 5.1 percent in November, the region's worst showing since January 1996.

The local jobless rate jumped nearly a full point from 4.2 percent in October. It was the second-biggest increase among Virginia metro areas behind Danville, which swelled more than two points to 11.8 percent in November.

Approximately 3,410 area workers drew unemployment benefits during the Virginia Employment Commission's reference week of Nov. 9-15. For purposes of employment, the Winchester metro area includes the city, Frederick County and Hampshire County, W.Va.

According to VEC Chief Economist William F. Mezger, more workers were on factory furloughs around the Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holidays due to the weakening economy, and many people were still in the process of applying for seasonal jobs in mid-November.

Statewide, unemployment rose four-tenths of a point to 4.6 percent in November.

The December unemployment rate will probably be near the November level, according to Mezger. Many of the workers seeking holiday employment in November are hired by December, he said, although merchants generally had a poor holiday season in 2008. There were also more factory furloughs last month, he said.

Virginia appears on the verge of a recession, Mezger said, and will likely be in one by the spring.

-- Daily Staff Reports

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