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Temporary factors such as holiday furloughs at factories and poor weather conditions led to a resulted in Galax having the highest jobless rate in the state for July.
Galax outranked Martinsville for the top spot, a locality known for having the state’s highest unemployment rates, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
The city saw an unemployment rate of 16.2 percent in July, when the jobless community doubled to 551. This number is nearly double the previous year’s rate of 8.8 percent.
The ranking made headlines all over Virginia and beyond — the Miami Herald even had a story — but the situation was a temporary one.
“We’re not very concerned about it,” said Bill Webb of the Virginia Employment Commission’s Galax branch last week. He explained that a number of factors combined, essentially resulting in a temporary dip in their area’s employment.
In July, it’s typical for local manufacturing plants to furlough workers around the Fourth of July, said Webb. Because these plants account for a high percentage of the area’s workforce, the rise in unemployment for that particular month is not a new thing for the city.
Frequent downpours became another issue this summer, Webb said. “The rains saturated the ground, and with all of the different things that were going on, construction couldn’t do any work,” he said. “Lately though, the rain has held off, so it looks like that work will be starting back.”
The final factor was a job surge in Martinsville that brought its unemployment count lower this month, which Webb says pushed Galax up to the top. “It’s all very misleading, because [in August] we will more than likely come back down to the 8 or 9 percent rate” when those figures are released later this month, he confirmed.
On a state level, Virginia had an overall jobless rate of 5.8 percent in July. Nationally, the numbers averaged at 7.7 percent.
Arlington County had the lowest unemployment in July, ranking at the bottom of the list with a 3.8 percent jobless rate.