HARRISONBURG — The unemployment rate in the Harrisonburg metro area returned to 3% during March, matching January’s levels after a small increase to 3.1% in February. In March 2018, the unemployment rate for the area was 3.2%.

March’s labor force numbers, employment and the number of unemployed also dropped slightly from February’s levels in the metro area of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Locally, the labor force dropped by around 1,000 people between February and March, from 67,324 to 66,255. Last year, there were 65,569 potential workers in the metro area during March.

Employment also dropped by around 1,000, from 65,230 in February to 64,279 in March, though still higher than March 2018’s 63,497 employees.

The unemployment rate and number of unemployed has been mostly dropping since hitting 8.1% and 5,141, respectively, in February 2010, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

In the metro area, total nonfarm jobs increased slightly from 69,300 to 69,400, matching October 2018’s level. The increase also marks a 1.2% increase over a 12-month period in the sector.

Trade, transportation and utility jobs also matched October 2018 levels to stand at 13,600. However, this marks a somewhat larger increase for the sector — 3.8% over a 12-month period.

Rockingham County’s unemployment decreased from 2.9% in March 2018 to 2.7% in March 2019. February’s rate was 2.8%.

Augusta County’s March unemployment matched Rockingham’s unemployment for the second month in a row, dropping to 2.7% from 2.8% in February. The two counties’ unemployment rate also matched in March 2018, at 2.9%.

Shenandoah County also saw a decrease in March’s unemployment rate, to 2.9%. This marks an improvement over February’s 3%, which also was the county’s unemployment rate in March 2018.

Page County was not so lucky, with unemployment increasing over the past 12 months from 4.9% in March 2018 to 5.1% in March 2019. However, this is still a marked decrease in unemployment for the county, which was facing a 5.7% unemployment rate in February.

Statewide, the March unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 2.9%, with no change from February’s level. Local unemployment rates are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors.

Many industries in the state have seen an increase in workers over the past 12 months, including manufacturing, construction, leisure and hospitality as well as education and health. However, other industries, such as mining and logging, information, and financial services, have lost workers over the past 12 months.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or imunro@dnronline.com. Follow Ian on Twitter @IanMunroDNR

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