Job numbers keep rising
The numbers keep going up and that’s a good thing in this case. From Charlotte to Prince Edward, all of the counties in this region are seeing two things: an increasing labor force and a growing employment number.
This isn’t a one-time thing. The latest numbers, which show where we were at the end of June, continue a trend that’s been moving forward for several months now in Virginia. All three counties show month to month and year over year growth. That’s due to a post-pandemic “return to normal” of sorts for the region, said Meagan Schoenberger. She works as senior economist for KPMG.
Here and other places across the state, it’s being done in different ways. People move into an area and decide they want to launch businesses. That produces a demand for more workers and in some cases encourages people to move in.
“That’s sort of robustified economies in (some) geographic regions and now they need a lot more labor,” Schoenberger said.
A LOOK AT CHARLOTTE COUNTY
Out of our area, the numbers are looking good for Charlotte County. The labor force here in Charlotte is growing. Last year in June, it came in at 5,566 people. In June 2023, that workforce stood at 5,784. That’s an extra 218 people coming into the area, looking for work. And the numbers month to month also show growth. In May, there were 5,653 people in the labor force. But while having more people is nice, more important is how many of those folks are employed. The number is growing there as well.
Charlotte County had 5,583 people employed in June 2023. That’s up from both 5,472 in May and 5,394 at the same time last year. That translates into 189 jobs brought in, year over year. Governor Glenn Youngkin applauded areas like Charlotte County, ones that are seeing slight growth, but growth nonetheless.
“With the largest labor force ever to support growing businesses, Virginia is on the move, and we continue to focus on reducing the cost of doing business and lowering the cost of living for working Virginians to accelerate these results,” Youngkin said. “Together, we can keep moving the Commonwealth forward.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING NEXT DOOR?
Meanwhile, Prince Edward County’s seen the largest year over year increases in this region. That starts with the workforce. Last year in June, it came in at 9,752 people. In June 2023, that workforce stands at 10,274. Employed residents also climbed year over year, going from 9,298 in June 2022 to 9,813 this year. That leaves just 461 people unemployed from that workforce, or a 4.5% rate.
And state officials from the Virginia Employment Commission, where we pulled these numbers, point out that the labor force will likely keep climbing, now that Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College students are returning.
“The increase in employment in Prince Edward County is a very positive sign of our improving economy,” said County Administrator Doug Stanley. “Part of this, as we see it, is the return to “full employment” post-COVID. The IDA and Board of Supervisors are focused on bringing additional investment and creating additional job opportunities for our residents. With the planning opening of four to five new businesses in the coming year, we anticipate that this trend will continue.”
This year, we’ve seen several projects approved, including an expansion of Sandy River Distillery, to allow a restaurant on the property. Also, construction is going on for a Dollar General near the Old Fishin’ Pig site on Farmville Road and a Wawa store is in the works as well.
One of the keys that could help Prince Edward is the expansion of the Sandy River Reservoir. The main problem with recruiting a company involves the requirements a facility like the recently closed Tyson plant needs. Space isn’t an issue. The situation in this area often comes down to water. And with the Sandy River expansion, Prince Edward can provide a million gallons of water a day.