PITTSYLVANIA Co., Va. and DANVILLE, Va. — Unemployment rates in both Pittsylvania County and Danville from April 2020 to January 2021 have plummeted by a greater margin in a shorter period of time than ever before in the modern economic era.

Danville City's unemployment rate is less than half of what it was nine months ago, while the county's is barely a third what it was.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, the county unemployment rate spiked from 3.8 percent in February to 12.9 percent in April, the highest recorded since 15.1 percent in October of 1990.

Danville was over the 3.5-percent national average unemployment last February with a rate of 5.5 percent, but that number spiked to 16.4 percent in April, the highest since 16.6 percent in the spring of 1991.

Both localities are now seeing unemployment rates lower than the 30-year average. Pittsylvania County slashed April's unemployment rate in thirds, plummeting from 12.9 percent to 4.3 percent. Danville cut its deficit in half and then some, from 16.4 percent nine months ago to 6.8 percent today.

The city and county are both riding downward trends, predicted to see continuous droppage in the coming months.

Backed by three phases of business reopenings and a healthy influx of economic development projects to the area in the past year, Pittsylvania-Danville's nearly 50,000 eligible workers have been fortunate not to have undergone an extensive period of job shortage. 

In Pittsylvania County, 1,265 adults are unemployed out of a work force of 29,659. In Danville, 1,295 adults are unemployed out of a labor force of 19,136.

Statewide, the labor force this year expanded by four tenths of a percent, or 16,323 individuals. The commonwealth's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is down to 6.7 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the national unemployment rate as of January 2021 is also 6.7 percent.

According to the BLS monthly employment situation report, 8,100 job positions in nonagricultural wage and salary employment in Virginia were added in November. Private sector employment increased in November by 13,800 jobs, however, the public sector lost 5,700 jobs.

Based on the most recent figures, six major industry divisions have undergone an increase in seasonally adjusted employment, four have undergone a decrease, and one has remained fixed.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, the largest job gains during November occurred in professional and business services, with an increase of 6,800 jobs to 757,000. The second largest job gain was in education and health services, with an increase of 3,800 jobs to 527,400.

Other employment gains included construction (+3,400 jobs) to 215,400, leisure and hospitality (+2,000 jobs) to 348,100, trade and transportation (+900 jobs) to 653,600 and mining (+100 jobs) to 7,200.

The largest job loss occurred in Government employment, which dropped by 5,700 jobs in November. For total government, a gain occurred in state government (+600 jobs), with losses in federal government (-1,600 jobs) and local government (-4,700 jobs).

Other employment losses included manufacturing, (-600 jobs,) and information and miscellaneous services, both decreasing by (-1,300 jobs).

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate fell four tenths of a percentage point in November to 4.6 percent, and was up 2.1 percentage points from a year ago.

Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed people increased by 86,500, household employment decreased by 249,801 and the labor force decreased by 163,301.

Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which fell by 0.2 percentage points in November to 6.4 percent.

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