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Thursday, August 29, 2013
RICHMOND — Layoffs in construction, the wholesale trade and manufacturing pushed Galax’s jobless rate to the highest in Virginia in July, topping Martinsville, which has long-held the ranking for the biggest percentage of unemployed, the Virginia Employment Commission said Wednesday.
The small, southwestern Virginia city near the North Carolina border had a seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 16.2 percent, as the number of people without jobs there nearly doubled to 551 from the previous month. Its jobless rate rose from 9 percent in June and 8.8 percent a year ago.
Ann Lang, an economist with the Virginia Employment Commission, said it is too early to tell whether Galax’s July unemployment rate is a temporary blip or something more, saying weather may have played a role in an interruption in construction jobs in the area.
Galax City Manager Keith Barker said two furniture manufacturers employing more than 800 workers typically furlough workers around the Fourth of July. “I would really suspect that is what it is,” he said.
Martinsville has recorded the highest jobless rate in Virginia for at least several years following the loss of manufacturing jobs in the area.
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