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Why some areas are more vulnerable to unemployment swings

By David Kaplan, dkaplan@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 02 2013 04:14:09 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 02 2013 06:10:11 PM EDT

The national unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent.

ROANOKE, Va. -

The Labor Department released its monthly jobs report this morning.

Employers added 162,000 jobs in July.

That's fewer than expected, but enough to lower the national unemployment rate from 7.6% percent to 7.4%

Overall, we're doing better in our region.

We wanted to find out today: what's the real driver of job growth in Roanoke and surrounding areas?

Kathy Holcomb with the Virginia Work Force Center, said it's obviously a loaded question.

But she said the reason many of the counties in our viewing area have remained below the national unemployment average is a diversity of industry.

Holcomb says having a variety of industry in the area means we're not vulnerable to some of the dramatic employment swings in other parts of the country.

That being said, Holcomb says those who are unemployed are often unaware of the resources to help them find a job.

"We all try to find people employment regardless of their skills of barriers they may have to employment. We have several different programs and several different ways to assist them," Holcomb said.

Full-time jobs are in high demand.  We caught up with Roger Higdon.

He worked at the Elizabeth Arden factory in Roanoke for 22 years before he was laid off 13 months ago.

He says unemployment has been tough, but he's noticed that even in the past few months that more of these full-time options seem available.

"It has gotten better, if you would have looked at it and come in here last November, October, September people was really not wanting to do anything at all. They weren't wanting to hire," said Higdon.

The county by county data for Virginia doesn't come out for another two weeks.  But the unemployment rate in Virginia dropped 0.2% statewide from June 2012 to June 2013.

In the Roanoke Region, unemployment dropped 0.2% to 6.3%.  In the New River Vally, unemployment fell from 7.3% to 6.7%.  In Lynchburg; a 0.4% drop to 7.0% and in the Southside, unemployment dropped from 9.0% to 8.4% from June 2012 to June 2013.