How Onward NRV is Addressing Low Unemployment

The unemployment rate is incredibly low, both nationally and in Virginia’s New River Valley.

The NRV officially has an unemployment rate of 2.6%. According to most economists, anything below 3% represents full employment due to a small percentage of people constantly transitioning in and out of jobs.

While having people employed in our communities is a great thing, it does present some challenges for economic development. For existing companies, a low unemployment rate can cause challenges in finding adequate workforce as they grow. It can also undermine our ability to attract new companies to the area.

Onward NRV Executive Director Charlie Jewell recently addressed the issue in the Roanoke Times:

“It’s one of those challenging things to talk about. Of course it’s good that the unemployment rate is low and people are employed. But in terms of the business climate, it can make it challenging for companies that are located here to be able to compete and grow. It also undermines our ability as a region to be able to absorb new companies moving into the area.”

Talent and available workforce is the number one concern among companies across the country due to the tightening labor market. There is a “war for talent” nationwide and the communities that will succeed are those that will retain and attract talent.

Fortunately, Virginia’s New River Valley is in a good position. There are 3 exceptional higher education institutes in the region and 25% of our population is made up of students.

This means not only is there a great pipeline for companies to draw from locally, but also a vast network of alumni from Virginia Tech and Radford University who are more apt to return to the NRV. In fact, companies are finding success by attracting alumni to fill mid to senior level positions.

This is why talent attraction and retention and Onward NRV’s industry hub initiatives are major parts of the five-year strategy. Onward NRV looks forward to executing these strategies to ensure that Virginia’s New River Valley wins the “war for talent.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

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