Unemployment rates rise as school lets out

Unemployment rates in Prince William County and Manassas rose slightly in June as high school students entered the work force, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

In Prince William, the jobless rate increased from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent between May and June, with 5,476 residents claiming unemployment.

In Manassas, the number of unemployed rose from 977 people to 1,017 — or 4.8 percent. In Manassas Park, the rate dropped from 3.1 percent to 2.8 percent, with 134 workers unemployed.

Statewide, the jobless rate rose 0.2 percent to 4.3 in June, increasing the number of unemployed by 7,500 to total 163,400.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 6 percent in June.

“Overall, the economy in Northern Virginia from May to June seemed to be a little improved,” said William Mezger, chief economist for the state’s employment commission. “You’re getting to the height of tourist season, which offsets [the impact of] students coming into the work force.”

The unemployment rate rose in six of Virginia’s metropolitan areas. Charlottesville had the lowest jobless rate at 2.9 percent and Danville had the highest, at 9.9 percent.

The services industry saw the biggest increase in jobs, adding 11,900 positions, as theme parks, resorts and other tourist-related activities opened for the summer.

The construction industry added 4,000 jobs, and engineering, architectural and management consulting services added 2,000 jobs –many filled by recent college graduates.

As usual, government employment was down in June as public schools closed for the summer. In June, the sector was reduced by 2,700 jobs.

Students looking for summer jobs are normally factored into the jobless ranks only four to five weeks before they find work or stop looking, according to the commission.

Not much change is expected in the unemployment rate between June and July, the commission reported.

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

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