By Ryan Cornell
Total wages for Shenandoah County are at the highest they've ever been.
According to the most recent information released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total wages in the county measured about $115.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2013.
The data indicate that total wages, the total amount of what everyone earned in the county, experienced a dip during the recession, but has climbed back up and surpassed the peak previously earned during the fourth quarter of 2007.
Brandon Davis, director of community development for Shenandoah County, pointed to the rapidly declining unemployment rate as a possible factor.
"Historically, wages continue to grow due to lots of things: reinvestment and inflation and employment," he said. "Another important factor is decreased unemployment ... our unemployment rate in the county decreased last year faster than the rate in the state and nationwide."
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Shenandoah County is at 5.5 percent, the lowest since 2008.
In February 2010, seasonally adjusted unemployment reached a peak throughout many communities. Unemployment in Shenandoah County measured 9.5 percent, as compared to 10 percent in the U.S. and 7.5 percent in Virginia. While Shenandoah County's unemployment rate dropped by 4 percent in the past four-year span, unemployment in the U.S. decreased by 3.1 percent and in Virginia by 2.3 percent.
Average annual wages in Shenandoah County are also at the highest they've ever been recorded. The average annual salary in Shenandoah County in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $31,531, and the average annual salary in Virginia was $51,665.
Davis said that when the cost of living base index is 100 in the U.S., Virginia's cost of living measures 111.5 and Shenandoah County's measures 106.5.
"I will say that these are just a few pieces of data," Davis said. "But they are encouraging data points because if those charts were going in the other direction, then our community would have declining wealth, and that is never good."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org