March 8, 2005
According to the Department of Labor, the Charlottesville metropolitan area has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country. Much of this is due to development.
"It's a community with a number one quality of life," said Robert De Mauri, Director the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development. "We've had growth in residential construction. We've had growth at the University of Virginia in terms of public positions and as people move in the public sector, educational jobs have grown."
The top four cities with the lowest percentage of unemployed people all have colleges or universities. Charlottesville weighs in at second at 1.9% following only Bryan-College Station that houses Texas A&M.
Many local businesses find the academic community a great place to expand. Take electronic giant, CRUTCHFIELD. The company began 30 years ago with just 1 person and now it employs 500.
"People come and go, so you have a lot of change and diversity," said Mark Maynard of CRUTCHFIELD. "The college towns tend to breed the culture structure that embraces learning and that's what we're all about." But these numbers can cause challenges.
"The reality is that we do compete with every other company for every employee," said Maynard.
CRUTCHFIELD had to open another office in southwest Virginia because the pool of employees was larger.
Low numbers can also lead to under-employment or over-qualification.
"[It is] requiring less skills or less education than the people who are actually employed in them have or possess," explained De Mauri.
Over all, however, there has been an increase in area jobs, especially in the technical services.
"Health care is growing, but we look to the future in terms of bio-tech or info-tech or communication technology," said De Mauri.
Despite the growth, our number one city has attracted more jobseekers than there are jobs available, so it still may be difficult for new residents to find openings.