The latest data show jobless rates in the area are holding steady, with only 2.6% of workers seeking a job in the Staunton-Waynesboro metro area unable to find one in July, according to the most recent available figures from the Virginia Employment Commission.
The numbers, released Wednesday by the VEC, show the three localities that make up the metro area — Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County — continue to fare better than the state and nation as a whole.
Virginia's jobless rate stood at 2.9% in July, unchanged from the month before, and U.S. unemployment was at 4%, up two-tenths of a percentage point from June, when the rate was 3.8%.
Broken down, Waynesboro’s unemployment declined by 0.1 percentage points from June to July, down from 3% to 2.9%. Compared to the prior year, the city's jobless rate is a half-a-percentage point better, dropping from 3.4% in July 2018.
Staunton had a similar month-to-month decrease, declining from 2.9% to 2.8%, and down 0.2 percentage points from the prior year’s 3.0%. Augusta County experienced a similar drop, declining to 2.4% in July from 2.6% the prior month and down from 2.7% in July 2018.
Unemployment for the combined metro area also dropped slightly in July from June's 2.7% and 0.2 percentage points better than the previous year, when the figure stood at 2.9%.
While Virginia's rate remained flat month-to-month, the commonwealth fared better compared to July 2018, when 3.1% percent of job-seekers were unable to find work. Although national unemployment rose in July compared to June, the U.S. figure ticked down from than the previous year, when it stood at 4.1%.
State and national rates are seasonally adjusted to remove the effects of predictable changes, such as weather, on the labor market. Local rates are not.
The Staunton-Waynesboro Metropolitan Statistical Area’s rate continues to be as low or lower than every other MSA in the Shenandoah Valley — only the Virginia portion of the Winchester MSA had an equally low rate of 2.6%. The Harrisonburg MSA, which includes Rockingham County, stood at 3.0% unemployment, a slight drop from June's 3.1%.
Elsewhere, the jobless rate for the Charlottesville metro area decreased from 2.8% in June to 2.7% in July, matching the same rate and change for Albemarle County when measured separately. Charlottesville, when measured by itself, also recorded a 0.1 percentage point drop from the month before, going from 2.7% to 2.6%
The lowest jobless figure in Virginia continued to be found in Arlington County, which reported just 1.9% of residents unable to find work in July, down from 2% in June. Alexandria and Fairfax tied for second lowest at 2.1% each.
Buchanan County, bordering Kentucky and West Virginia in far southwestern Virginia, had the commonwealth's highest unemployment in July at 6.3%. Petersburg, 5.9%, Lexington, 5.7%, and Danville and Dickenson County, both at 5.5%, recorded the next highest rates among 134 Virginia localities.