Unemployment Rates Down Nationwide; Up Locally

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

January 5, 2006

The nation's unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since the year 2000, but in Charlottesville that number is up. There are more people without a job in Charlottesville now than there were 5 years ago. For some, finding a job that matches their skills and salary can be a long and tedious search.

Daniel Reese is a disabled veteran who about a month ago landed in Charlottesville looking for work. Even though, he feels there are more job opportunities here, his job hunt has been slow.

"It's been kind of difficult...but I've been keeping my eyes open and trying to find what catches my eye," said Reese.

Daniel is one of about 900 people in Charlottesville and 2,500 in the surrounding counties currently unemployed. According to the Virginia unemployment commission, that's about one percent higher than five years ago. Job rates often fluctuate in construction and retail.

"You may have employment opportunities, but the opportunities may not put you back in the same earning bracket and that's a concern for some of the unemployed," said Teresa Turner, Manager of Charlottesville's Unemployment Office.

Turner says a lot of the unemployment problems stem from the early 2000's. When giant manufacturers Technicolor and Comdial packed up and left, at least 500 people were let go. The impact left a dent in the local job market.

"The jobs that replaced the ones lost didn't require the same skill set, so although the folks want to work, they haven't been able to find a mesh," said Turner.

Daniel's leg injury has limited his job choices. Still, he's optimistic about finding a job, maybe even as a vet representative where he can help his comrades.

He said, "I have real good qualifications, so I plan on getting in there real soon and starting to work as a civilian again."

As of November 2005, the unemployment rate in Virginia was a little over three percent compared to nearly five percent nationwide.

Although the unemployment rate is slightly up locally, the area's job growth is still doing well. Unemployment officials say unless there are some big layoffs, the job market should remain fairly stable.

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