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Jefferson Co. jobless rate tops in the state again

December 27, 2005|by Staff reports

Jefferson County continues to lead the state in the number of people working there.

Jefferson County boasted a November unemployment rate of 2.3 percent, which Workforce West Virginia said was one of only four counties in the state to record a rate considered to be much better than average.

Monongalia County, in the northcentral part of the state, and Hardy County each had 2.6 percent unemployment rates.

The Eastern Panhandle continued its sterling rate as Berkeley County had a 3.6 percent unemployment rate and Morgan County's rate stood at 4.4 percent, according to Workforce West Virginia.

The state unemployment rate is 4.5 percent.

Jane Peters said Jefferson County's low unemployment rate can be attributed to the fact that most people who are moving into the county already have jobs.

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Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority, said it is conceivable that Jefferson County's jobless rate could drop as low as 1.5 percent.

Although low unemployment rates are considered good for a community, Peters said one drawback is that potential new employers to the area might fear there are not enough workers to draw from to start a new business.

What business development experts need to emphasize to such businesses is that many local workers are commuters and that they might be tempted to switch to a local job to avoid their commute, Peters said.

That type of scenario could work out if the area is able to attract more high-tech businesses, Peters said.

Bob Crawford, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority, said the unemployment rate has held steady at below 4 percent in recent months.

"I'm pleased because that says, OK, there have not been any additional job losses," Crawford said. "I think it reflects that the business climate here is good."

The rate held steady even in the fall, when it sometimes increases because students who held summer jobs return to school.

A low unemployment rate can have a drawback - employers might have a harder time finding employees because there is a smaller pool of job applicants from which to draw, Crawford said.

- Staff writers Candice Bosely and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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