There was a roughly 10% reduction in total non-farm jobs in the Harrisonburg metro area between February and April, a figure that translates to roughly 7,400 positions disappearing, according to April data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the metro area, which includes Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, roughly 5,500 jobs were lost between March and April, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were roughly 70,000 jobs in the city and county, a number that was reliably growing, but fluctuated.

In March, almost 2,000 area jobs disappeared and further losses in April reduced the figure to about 63,500.

Virginia has seen the country’s sixth largest increase in unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from WalletHub, a personal finance website.

In February, unemployment in the commonwealth reached 2.6%, its lowest point since March 2001.

The very next month, it increased to 3.3%.

By April, the state had an unemployment rate of 10.6% as the non-farm payrolls dropped by 383,400, according to a Friday press release from the Virginia Employment Commission.

Job losses were seen across all major industries, but with the heaviest toll taken out of leisure and hospitality, where roughly 40% of jobs were lost — from 402,200 positions to 240,800.

The most resilient sector was manufacturing, where 6,300 jobs were lost from over 240,000.

Virginia has seen a 1,631.77% increase in unemployment claims during the week of May 11, 2020 compared to the week of May 13, 2019, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Georgia is the most impacted since the COVID-19 crisis set off a tsunami of unemployment as businesses were shut and consumer confidence faltered.

The Peach State has seen a 4,852.55% increase in jobless claims from March 18 to May 11 compared to March 18 to May 13 in 2019.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment in the country had reached historic lows.

In 2019, the nation saw three months — October, November and December — of 50-year lows with an unemployment rate of 3.5%. The figure was also seen in February.

The jobless rate had been so low that business groups lobbied — locally, statewide and federally — to find solutions to the labor shortage, which had raised wages and increased benefits for workers as employers competed for staff members.

Nationwide, unemployment in April was 14.7%, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or Follow Ian on Twitter @iamIanMunro

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