County Executive  |  Economic Indicators -- Unemployment Rate Blips Up
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   Albemarle County, Virginia

October 31, 2010     

Quarterly Economic Indicators

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BLIPS UP

Albemarle County’s non seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly from 5.3% in FY 2010 Q1 to 5.4% in FY 2011 Q1, the latest complete quarter for which Virginia Employment Commission data exists.  This small increase was in contrast to the stability exhibited in Virginia’s rate, which remained at 6.8%, and the slight decline in the U.S. rate, which went from 9.6% to 9.5%, during the same period. 

The upward “blip” in the County’s rate of unemployment reflects the fact that, between FY 10 Q1 and FY 11 Q1, the County’s civilian labor force fell by 198 workers, while the actual number of unemployed workers increased by 18.  The small rise in the County’s unemployment rate, although unfortunate, does contain at least one piece of good news:  Albemarle’s rate remains lower than the state and U.S. rates, a testament to the resilience of the County’s economy.  This situation parallels the relative rankings of the local, state, and national unemployment rates during the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions. 

An important point to know about the unemployment rate is that this figure historically has tended to peak after the officially-designated end of  recessions.  In the case of Albemarle County, the unemployment rate peaked 11 months after the end of the 1990-91 recession and, topped out 21 months after the close of the 2001 recession.  The official designation of the end of the “Great Recession” was June 2009, the last month of FY 09 Q4.  If history were to repeat itself, we would expect the County’s unemployment rate to reach its highest level  sometime between May of 2010 (in FY 10 Q4) and  March of 2011 (in FY 11 Q3).

The problem with relying on history for guidance is that every recession is different; the aftermath of the “Great Recession” might not be comparable to the aftermath of previous recessions.  One difference in the current post-recession era, for example, involves the extension of unemployment benefits that were initiated in response to the “Great Recession.”  Some economists think that this extension might represent a disincentive for unemployed workers to find new jobs and, as a result, might prolong the currently elevated rates of unemployment.

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