State jobless rate hits 8-month low

The state unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in April, an eight-month low, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

The number of people claiming unemployment in Prince William County was 4,837, or 3.1 percent, compared to 3.3 percent in March.

In Manassas the unemployment rate went from 5 percent to 4.8 percent, with 1,001 people unemployed, but in Manassas Park it rose from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent, with 161 people unemployed.

Overall, local unemployment was well below the national unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, especially good news as the work force expanded in April, said William F. Mezger, chief economist for the state Employment Commission.

In Virginia, the labor force grew by 8,700 people between March and April, making it a record 3,756,500.

April typically has one of the lowest unemployment rates of the year thanks to spring tourism. There were 6,500 jobs added in the services industry and 5,000 jobs added in the trade industry.

Government employment increased by 1,600 jobs as public parks and recreational facilities opened for the season.

The building industry added 1,500 jobs, bringing the total to 204,400.

Of Virginia’s eight metropolitan areas, five saw decreases in the unemployment rate, two remained the same and one, Danville, experienced a 0.3 percent increase to 10 percent.

Charlottesville had the lowest unemployment, 2.4 percent, and Northern Virginia had the second lowest with 3 percent.

The unemployment rate often increases in May because there is sometimes a drop in tourism and student workers enter the labor force.

“When you get into summer, you get a lot of students who are unemployed,” Mezger said.

Staff writer Kate Bissell can be reached at (703) 878-8068.

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