By Eleanor Kennedy
Unemployment fell throughout the Lynchburg region in February, dropping everywhere but the city of Bedford both month-to-month and year-to-year.
The regional unemployment rate fell half a percentage point from last year to this one, dropping from 6.9 percent to 6.4 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Wednesday by the Virginia Employment Commission. The rate was 6.8 percent in January.
“I think that’s certainly a positive trend,” Bryan David, of Region 2000, said. He cited the Lynchburg metropolitan statistical area’s strong numbers for payroll employment — a measure of the number of people being paid as employees by non-farm business establishments and units of government — and total employment performance in the Federal Reserve Bank’s most recent regional snapshot as further evidence the region is coming out of the recession stronger than some of the parts of the state.
“We’re leading the state in expansion of our payroll employment,” he said.
While challenges on a state, national and international level may eventually affect the region, David said, for now, things are looking good.
“Our fundamentals are remaining sound,” he said.
The city of Lynchburg saw the biggest drop in unemployment rate from January to February, falling from 7.5 percent to 6.9 percent. The city’s rate also fell from 7.6 percent last February.
Appomattox County fell more than a percentage point year-over-year, tallying the biggest drop from 8.3 percent last year to 6.6 percent this one.
Bedford city, however, saw increases both year-to-year and month-to-month. The city’s February 2013 rate was 10.1 percent, up from 10 percent in January and 8.3 percent last year.
Bedford is set to revert to a town and become part of Bedford County this summer.
Campbell County’s February unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, equal to Virginia’s. Nelson County was the only locality with a rate lower than the state’s, at 5.6 percent.
Every locality but Bedford city recorded a rate lower than the national 8.1 percent.