Unemployment rate jumps

Published 7:34pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The city’s economic director sees a silver lining in the latest unemployment report for Suffolk, which at face value doesn’t seem like great news.

Preliminary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that unemployment in Suffolk rose almost a full percentage in May over April.

It stood at 6.4 percent, slightly higher than the same month in 2013, and slightly better than 6.7 percent in May of 2012.

“You can actually use these numbers to assist,” said Kevin Hughes, whose role involves fostering jobs growth by attracting new companies to Suffolk and encouraging those already here to expand.

To companies considering setting up here, according to Hughes, the numbers can be the basis of this argument: Suffolk has a large and available labor pool to draw from.

For the metropolitan statistical area Suffolk is a part of, which includes 15 other cities and counties in Virginia and North Carolina, the unemployment picture is somewhat better.

The bureau’s early figures suggest the rate was 5.8 percent for the area in May, up from 5.1 percent in April but down slightly from 6 percent in May 2012.

“It’s reminiscent of what we saw last year, for the most part,” Hughes said.

May is “always an interesting month,” he said, noting that 631 people were added to the labor pool in Suffolk.

Many new jobseekers are students looking for summer employment, he said, though “just generally speaking, we are still seeing a difficult economy for jobs.”

During the recession, companies learned to do more with less, Hughes said, and they remain reluctant to hire new staff.

Hughes also said companies are more cautious now, studying the scene closely before running job ads.

“We are continuing to see interest, but that interest is probably doing more due diligence and a longer timeframe of due diligence,” he said.

“They are really doing their homework, and they are doing as much to alleviate their risk.”

The city is seeing some activity from companies with 25 to 50-plus employees looking for new sites, according to Hughes.

Suffolk is currently on the short list of a handful of companies, he said, “and that could have some positive impact for us.”

  • So What

    “We are continuing to see interest, but that interest is probably doing more due diligence and a longer timeframe of due diligence,” he said.
    That’s great. and World war 2 would have eventually ended. and we could be having this discussion in Japanese. we had a leader in Truman who wasn’t scared to look into the present and the future to do what was best for us as a whole country to survive. where all of the leaders here in Suffolk from the past and present and possibly the future only See the Northern end. With the politicans its like the people of Oakinawa were told how the Americans would torture them kill them if they were to surrender. and if a politican or council member supports any thing that would be a positive for downtown that’s what there career is worth. THEY ARE COMITTING POLITICAL SUICIDE. AND as it was about in WW 2 IT WAS ABOUT real estate. And this city is run by land peddlers. since when do land peddlers pro vide jobs?

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  • spdrltr

    I suppose that the director of economic development in Suffolk finds the Virginia Employment Commission’s plan to close its workforce development office in Suffolk more good news. I mean this employer’s exit leaves more room for all those new ones that have Suffolk on their short list of places to locate. What a pile of BS. I can’t believe the DED really thinks the citizens of Suffolk believe his BS. Chalk up another one for the queen, great hire! LOL

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  • Johnny

    Yet another reason to get rid of Cuffee-Glenn as our city manager. She has done nothing but hire unqualified “like-minded” friends into positions they are not qualified for, which in turn has led our city down a dismal path. We MUST have a new city manager soon (as well as a new city council) before we tax and borrow ourselves into ruin. Look at downtown. It’s nothing but short-lived businesses and boarded up storefronts. Our city is suffering while our city manager makes almost 200,000 a year and select city council members profit off of insider real estate transactions. There’s something rotten in the city of Suffolk!

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  • hambone

    This all has to do with our politicians. You keep voting bad horrible leaders until your city begins to fall apart. That is what has happen to Suffolk . The citizens keep voting bad leaders in. Look at Detroit after years of voting bad corrupt leaders Detroit is now a dump bankrupt. Suffolk is headed that way . The politicians in office don’t want change because they want votes. So sorry to see Suffolk going down hill. Because I know come November same bad leaders will be voted in office. Suffolk is all about public housing and crap downtown area. Downtown needs be bull dozed rebuilt. But the politicians wouldn’t get votes . Suffolk is going be Detroit sooner than latter. Thanks to citizens who don’t care.

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  • MrJiggyFly

    Cheap restaurant franchises and and strip shopping centers are not synonymous with quality jobs. We need quality employers. If you want the downtown area to survive, you need these quality employers to locate somewhere near the downtown area. Also city officials need to clean up the downtown area, i.e. dilapidated properties. And but not least, strengthen the school system. The numbers suck. Any reputable company who is looking to locate here looks at the demographics, school performance, TAXES, etc.

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  • Roger Leonard

    One must always take such a claim of benefit, related to higher unemployment as a positive thing for labor pool strategies. The best comment of such assessment would be that we have a diverse and well educated population to employ. Clearly that is not the case and will most likely not be something we can point to, for any employer, due to the failing school strategies we see our leadership implementing. Teacher flight is an issue and no one seems to know how to address it. Pay is a first step, but how? Start by reducing admin costs and focus on teaching as a priority. This is not rocket-science, simple policy changes and focus is needed…

    Economic Development is drive by money, infrastructure and a well qualified labor pool. We in Suffolk are struggling on all counts and to say that higher unemployment is a good omen or even a positive for recruitment is government-speak or worse.

    Then there is always the issue of pandering to some obtuse statement, just because you can. I like our ED Director, but he is reaching with this comment! You get an “F” on this try, so go back and try again…

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  • J. Peoples

    What will it matter if Suffolk is on the short list for new businesses if the City Council and School System don’t put their pettiness aside and work to build a strong school system and retain and attract experienced and certified teachers.

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