On May 21, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia’s unemployment rate fell 0.4-percentage point to 4.7 percent in April. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which rose to 6.1 percent.
“Virginia’s unemployment rate has decreased every month since last June and is edging closer to pre-pandemic record lows,” said Governor Northam. “More people are working, businesses are hiring, and our economy is getting even stronger than more and more Virginians receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Our Administration remains focused on ensuring there is an opportunity for every Virginia resident, in every part of our Commonwealth, so we can all move forward.”
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2,400 jobs in April. The labor force decreased by 12,422 to 4,225,614, and the number of unemployed residents decreased by 17,097 to 197,338. The number of employed residents rose by 4,675 to 4,028,276. Virginia’s over-the-year job gain of 7.7 percent was less than the 10.9 percent increase nationwide.
“It’s great to see more Virginians getting back to work, and industries that were hard hit by COVID-19, like tourism and hospitality, making a comeback,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Governor Northam has made wise, measured decisions throughout the pandemic, which is a major reason why Virginia’s economy is faring better than other states. We know we still have work to do, but this decrease in the unemployment rate is welcome news.”
“The Commonwealth enjoyed a strong and vibrant economy prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the decreasing unemployment rate demonstrates that we are on a solid path to recovery,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “With over 63 percent of adults in Virginia fully vaccinated, workers are growing more confident to go back to school or rejoin the workforce. Our focus moving forward will be to ensure that they have the skills, training, and support they need to thrive in the post-pandemic economy.”
In April, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 289,800 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 11,100 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of 11 major industry divisions experienced employment increases. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 114,000 jobs, or 52 percent. The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in trade and transportation, up 67,300 jobs, or 11 percent. Education and health services experienced the third-largest over-the-year job gain of 38,200 jobs or seven percent. The government experienced the largest decrease, falling by 11,100 jobs. Local government employment fell by 10,100 jobs and state government employment was down 3,400 jobs, while the federal government added 2,400 jobs.
For a greater statistical breakdown, visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at vec.virginia.gov.
The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced that the number of initial claims filed during the most recent filing week continued the trend of recent weeks’ lower claims volumes.
For the filing week ending May 15, the figure for seasonally unadjusted initial claims in Virginia was 10,642. The latest claims figure was a decrease of 628 claimants from the previous week. This brought the total number of claims filed since the March 21, 2020, filing week to 1,672,979, compared to the 477,600 average filed during the previous three economic recessions since 1990.
For the most recent filing week, continued weeks claimed totaled 60,413, which was an increase of 2,569 claims from the previous week, but 85% lower than the 403,557 continued claims from the comparable week last year. Over half of claims that had a self-reported industry were in the accommodation and food services, retail trade, administrative and waste services, and health care and social assistance industries.
The continued claims total is mainly comprised of those recent initial claimants who continued to file for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrating three DECA alumni during “DECA Month”
November is “DECA Month” and to cap several activities that WCHS DECA has conducted this month, the chapter would like to promote the accomplishments of three DECA alumni.
Alexandra “Lexi” Davis (2019) is currently a senior at James Madison University. Lexi not only is a WCHS DECA alumna, but a past Chapter Historian officer as well. When asked how her past experiences in DECA have impacted her personal life, she replied, “DECA has taught me how to present formally, talk to people, and knowing how to sell myself to clients and employers”. As to what advice she would give to a 1st year DECA member, Lexi stated, “put yourself out there as in getting involved in the community, compete in as many DECA events as you can, and try new things.” Her favorite memory of DECA? Going to Orlando Florida to compete in the DECA International Career Development Conference, being around her friends throughout all her years in DECA, and managing the school store, Wildcats Corner. Lexi was instrumental in having Wildcats Corner receive its initial Gold Level Certification as a school-based enterprise. Although she is an engineering major at JMU, Lexi attributes her ability to present engineering project ideas to potential clients due to her involvement and success with DECA projects.
Dr. Leonard F. “Len” Maiden (1950) was the 1st Chapter President of the Warren County High School DECA chapter. In 1949, Len was elected as the 1st High School President of National DECA. After graduating from WCHS, he earned degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, and the University of South Carolina. He was a veteran of the United States Army. In 1965 he joined the University of South Carolina faculty where he retired as Professor Emeritus of the College of Education. Before joining the faculty at USC, he served as a Virginia State Supervisor for Marketing (Distributive) Education where he mentored marketing teachers and DECA chapter advisors in the Front Royal/Winchester/Northern Virginia region. Throughout his career, Dr. Maiden never lost his love for DECA. He volunteered for many years as a judge in DECA state conferences in both Virginia and South Carolina. He mentored students learning to become teachers and teachers learning to improve their craft for many years. In 2021, the WCHS DECA Chapter established an annual scholarship to be awarded to a graduating WCHS DECA senior in his honor.
Sarah Gardner is a 2016 high school graduate and alumna of James Madison University (2020). She is also a professional member of the WCHS DECA chapter. While in high school, Sarah was a member of her high school DECA chapter and served as the chapter’s president her senior year. She was also a district winner, 3-time state winner, and competed in DECA’s International Career Development Conference three times. She has served Virginia DECA as a State Leadership Conference judge for three years. Currently, Sarah is a Senior Marketing Coordinator with Carahsoft Technology Corp. in Reston, VA. When asked how her high school DECA experiences helped to prepare her for life after high school, she responded, “DECA taught me how to present myself in a professional setting.” “DECA also taught me time management skills – mentoring other people, planning and executing projects, and writing research papers – and how to apply constructive criticism in order to improve as a marketing professional”, she added. When asked what advice she would offer a first-year DECA member, Sarah stated, “Don’t be afraid to fall short or fail. Just put forth your best effort and learn from the results!”
The Wildlife Center of Virginia to provide Thanksgiving meals for 100+ wild animals
Staff at The Wildlife Center of Virginia are getting ready for a Thanksgiving feast for over 100 “guests”. Species on the “guest list” include Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Screech-Owls, Bald Eagles, Black Bears, Deer Mice, and reptiles including Eastern Box Turtles, Eastern Ratsnakes, and a Snapping Turtle.
On November 25, the Center anticipates to be caring for approximately 90 patients and 20 resident education animals. Wildlife rehabilitators will be preparing and delivering meals, cleaning enclosures, and updating patient records.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce aren’t on the Wildlife Center menus – instead of a traditional family-style Thanksgiving meal, the Wildlife Center crew will make dozens of species-specific diets, which cater to each species’ needs and each patient’s particular preferences based on observations during their time as patients at the Center.
“The animals that we will be caring for this year include over 30 reptiles, over 20 birds of prey, and almost 20 squirrels” said Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor Kelsey Pleasants. “Most of these patients have been admitted after being hit by cars or caught by domestic pets. Many of them require weeks of intensive care and rehabilitation.”
While the rehabilitation staff are busy in the kitchen, Center veterinarians will provide medical care for patients in need – distributing and administering medications, cleaning wounds and changing bandages, completing daily checks, and other medical procedures – and remain ready for any new patients that might arrive. New patient admissions are always a possibility, any day of the year. By the time the staff go home to their Thanksgiving dinners, all 110 animals will be fed, watered, and cared for.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia is a non-profit hospital that is able to provide quality healthcare to wild animals in need through the generosity and support of caring individuals. “We’re so appreciative of the support of our donors that helps us to feed and care for each bird, mammal, and reptile,” said Pleasants.
To find out more about ways to support the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s work, the public can visit www.wildlifecenter.org.
Front Royal-Warren County Airport receives $790,000 in funding from infrastructure deal signed into law last week
On the busiest air travel day of the year, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that airports in Virginia are expected to receive $399,740,660 in federal funds over the next five years as a result of the bipartisan infrastructure deal signed into law last week.
The funding will be distributed to Virginia airports over five years as follows:
• Washington Dulles International: $120,399,725
• Ronald Reagan Washington National: $116,734,485
• Richmond International: $35,608,215
• Norfolk International: $33,098,390
• Charlottesville-Albemarle: $15,444,835
• Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional: $14,977,645
• Newport News/Williamsburg International: $10,194,005
• Lynchburg Regional/Preston Glenn Field: $6,497,230
• Shenandoah Valley Regional: $5,066,130
• Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field: $3,735,000
• Leesburg Executive: $3,735,000
• Virginia Highlands: $1,480,000
• Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive: $1,480,000
• Culpeper Regional: $1,480,000
• Danville Regional: $1,480,000
• New River Valley: $1,480,000
• Blue Ridge: $1,480,000
• Chesapeake Regional: $1,480,000
• Hampton Roads Executive: $1,480,000
• Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County: $1,480,000
• Hanover County Municipal: $1,480,000
• Warrenton-Fauquier: $1,480,000
• Winchester Regional: $1,480,000
• Franklin Regional: $790,000
• Front Royal-Warren County: $790,000
• Twin County: $790,000
• Louisa County/Freeman Field: $790,000
• Luray Caverns: $790,000
• Mountain Empire: $790,000
• Accomack County: $790,000
• Orange County: $790,000
• Dinwiddie County: $790,000
• New Kent County: $790,000
• William M. Tuck: $790,000
• Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional: $790,000
• Stafford Regional: $790,000
• Suffolk Executive: $790,000
• Tappahannock-Essex County: $790,000
• Middle Peninsula Regional: $790,000
• Emporia-Greensville Regional: $550,000
• Farmville Regional: $550,000
• Ingalls Field: $550,000
• Lee County: $550,000
• Tazewell County: $550,000
• Tangier Island: $550,000
• Lonesome Pine: $550,000
• Brookneal/Campbell County: $550,000
The funding represents Virginia’s share of $15 billion in direct grants to airports expected around the country as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bipartisan, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness that was negotiated by Sen. Warner and strongly supported by Sen. Kaine.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Gray Treefrog
Your outdoor plants may be full of surprises!
It’s that time of year where many people bring potted plants indoors for the winter, but that means it’s also the time of year when people realize they may have brought in more than just their plants!
This Gray Treefrog experienced just that, as the plant he was hiding on was brought into a warm room for the winter.
Because of the warmer temperatures, this frog stopped preparing for winter and became much more active, finally being discovered by the homeowner.
Because the frog had become acclimated to warmer temperatures, and the lows have been below freezing, it was decided it would not be safe for the frog to be placed back outside. Instead, the frog was brought to us for us to overwinter until next spring.
Check your plants before bringing them inside! If you find an amphibious stowaway, give us or your local rehabilitator a call before taking further action, so we can best assess the health of the animal and give you the best advice, keeping weather and natural behavior in mind.
If you want to avoid potentially disturbing wildlife, bring in your plants early before temperatures drop too low. That way, if you find any stowaways, you can simply place them back outside with plenty of time for them to find a new winter home.
This Gray Treefrog is our 3,171 patient in 2021!
We are fortunate to be able to provide a safe environment for amphibians to overwinter – but it comes at a price.
Our patients can’t pay for their care, and we don’t receive state or Federal funding for what we do. We rely on your donations to help wild animals and return them to their wild homes.
Giving Tuesday is in one week! In addition to a match provided by Facebook, our generous board of directors will match Giving Tuesday donations up to $15,000!
Please, donate to BRWC on Tuesday, November 30th, to make a big impact for wildlife!
Samuels Public Library offers free at-home COVID-19 tests
Samuels Public Library joins 18 other libraries and library systems state-wide offering free at-home COVID-19 tests through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The pilot program runs through Friday, December 31.
Individuals may pick up a virtually-guided Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 Antigen Card Home Test at Samuels Public Library, use it in the privacy of their own home and receive digital test results in 15 minutes. A library card is not required to receive a test. The program is designed to increase access to COVID-19 testing, especially among rural and remote communities.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with VDH to provide this simple, accessible avenue for testing in Warren County,” says Michelle Ross, Executive Director of Samuels Public Library. “Libraries play an important role in public health by offering free access to information, this service strengthens and extends that role.”
The at-home test kit uses the eMed digital platform. Users will need an internet-connected device enabled with a camera and microphone (smartphone or laptop) to join a virtual testing session with an eMed assistant. The eMed assistant will guide users through the testing process. Once the test is complete, the user will receive results within 15 minutes and eMed will report the results to VDH.
Individuals may request a test through curbside pick-up or at the Samuels Public Library circulation desk. If you are demonstrating symptoms, please use curbside pick-up and do not enter the library. For safety reasons, tests may not be taken inside the library. The library’s public wireless internet is accessible in the parking lot. VDH recommends tests be used within two weeks to avoid expiration.
About Samuels Public Library
Samuels Public Library brings people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. A 501(c)(3) organization, the library annually serves 200,000 visitors, checks out nearly 400,000 books, electronic and digital services, and provides essential computer access, wireless service and public meeting spaces for the community. To learn more, visit www.samuelslibrary.net or call (540) 635-3153.
Virginia State Police urging motorists to be patient and put safety first this Thanksgiving
For many Virginians, Thanksgiving is time to gather with friends and family, commiserate over the trials and tribulations of the previous year and to be truly thankful for blessings around us. These wonderful family moments often start with loading up the car and heading down the road. AAA predicts that 1.4 million Virginians will be traveling for the holiday, which is 11% more motorists than in 2020. With many of those travelers taking to the roadways, patience might be the most important thing to pack.
“With traffic on the roads increasing and many people anxious to get to their destination, I encourage all Virginians to be patient. Buckle up and take your time,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Your family wants you to arrive safely and in a frame of mind to enjoy all the holiday has to offer. Making sure you are driving the posted speed limit, driving for conditions and wearing your seatbelt are the best ways to stay safe on the road, so you can enjoy the holiday.”
To further prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. – Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. As part of the state-sponsored, national program, state police will be increasing its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period that begins at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, and concludes at midnight Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021.
The 2020 Thanksgiving Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 4,930 speeders and 1,706 reckless drivers statewide. Virginia troopers charged 67 drivers for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs, and cited 498 drivers for failing to buckle up themselves and/or juvenile passengers.
There were 12 traffic fatalities during the 2020 five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period and eight traffic fatalities during the same period in 2019.
This year, the Thanksgiving Holiday C.A.R.E. initiative falls within the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This helps to further emphasize the lifesaving value of seat belts for every person in a vehicle.
With increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.