Unemployment rises in Suffolk

Published 10:23 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Unemployment rose in Suffolk from May to June, but dropped significantly from its level last June, according to statistics released this week by the Virginia Workforce Connection.

Suffolk’s unemployment rate in June 2011 was 7.4 percent. It rose sharply from May’s rate of 7.1, but dropped almost a point from last June. The numbers are not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.

The rise followed a statewide trend that happens every year, said Don Lillywhite, research director for the Virginia Employment Commission.

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“Normally, the rates go up in June,” Lillywhite said. “It’s a seasonal thing, and it’s been true for a number of years.”

The trend is generally attributed to recent high school and college graduates entering the workforce, he said. College towns are more affected, but every locality sees some jump in the rates.

“When they start applying or looking for jobs, technically they’re considered unemployed,” Lillywhite said of the graduates.

The good news, he said, is that the unemployment rate in Suffolk as well as statewide this June was significantly lower than a year ago.

“They generally tend to come down in July, and we’re hoping for that,” he said.

Suffolk’s unemployment rate is in the middle among the seven Hampton Roads cities. Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Newport News all have lower rates, while Hampton, Portsmouth and Norfolk are higher.

None of them is as high as Franklin, though, which currently holds a 10.5 percent unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted statewide rate is at 6 percent, compared to the nationwide rate of 9.2 percent.