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Posted May 30, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Area jobless rate falls to 8 percent

Area figure still one of Virginia metros' highest

Winchester-area unemployment fell six-tenths of a point to 8 percent in April.

Most of the local job gains were in services, and losses in the goods-producing sector totaled only 100, according to Virginia Employment Commission data.

The Winchester metro area, which the VEC defines as the city, Frederick County and Hampshire County, W.Va., saw about 400 fewer jobless claims in April compared to March.

It was the region's second straight month of falling unemployment after topping out at 9.1 percent in February.

Still, Winchester's 8 percent rate in April was more than double that of the same month last year, and the third-highest among Virginia metro areas for the month behind Danville (12.4 percent) and the New River Valley (8.2 percent).

Statewide, there were 26 jurisdictions with double-digit unemployment in April, including Page County at 11.7 percent.

Across the region, Winchester had the highest unemployment at 8.5 percent, followed by Shenandoah County (8.3 percent), Frederick County (7.7 percent), Warren County (7.6 percent), Clarke County (5.9 percent) and Rappahannock County (5.7 percent).

Statewide, unemployment fell to 6.6 percent. VEC Chief Economist William F. Mezger said most of the improvement came from seasonal hires in the leisure and hospitality industry around the Easter holiday, though there was also continued expansion in health care and computer systems design.

Unemployment will likely remain high throughout the summer, Mezger said, as high school and college graduations bring thousands of young workers into the labor market. Also, the suspension of General Motors and Chrysler vehicle production for the next few months will mean a round of layoffs at automotive part suppliers, he said.

-- Daily Staff Report

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