Sunday, August 31, 2003

The economy by the numbers in one Southwest Virginia county

This article from the Smyth County News tells the tale of the numbers on the economy in Smyth County, Virginia:

Regarding the county, the article says:

"Smyth County is struggling to survive in a difficult state and national economic climate. According to 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census figures, the county’s population grew by about 700 people during the decade. However, labor force numbers have dropped significantly, as has the Smyth County Schools student population.

Official unemployment numbers among Smyth County workers dropped in July. June unemployment was 9.8 percent and July figures showed 259 more people working, for an 8.6 percent unemployment rate.

However, Smyth County’s overall employment has dropped by 1,012 working people in the past ten years. Oddly enough, the 1993 unemployment rate was 11.7 percent, the highest of the decade. Yet the July 2003 unemployment rate is 8.6 percent – 3.1 percent lower – when 1,000 less people are actually working in Smyth County.

If Smyth County still had its 17,888 labor force calculated in 1993, with this July’s number of employed workers (14,792), the unemployment figure for 2003 would be more than 17 percent.

What makes the difference is the labor force headcount has dropped by 1,384 – a reduction of 8.6 percent from the 1993 levels. During the past 10 years, despite the reported population increase, some workers have left Smyth County, some have started working outside the county, and others returned to school or stopped seeking work for other reasons.

Perhaps the most evident shift in Smyth County is the dropping school population. From school years ending in June 1993 to June 2003, the Smyth County school system lost almost 300 students from its overall population. School officials expect far more student losses this year."

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