Unemployment claims in the greater Lynchburg region have fallen to their lowest levels since March, according to the Central Virginia Workforce Development Board.

Total unemployment claims fell below 4,000 the week of October 3. Campbell, Appomattox, Bedford and Amherst Counties make up the region classified as the greater Lynchburg area. 3,560 continued unemployment claims were filed the week of October 3, along with 181 new claims for a total of 3,741.

“That is the lowest number we've seen, in terms of both people entering unemployment, and people who have been on it for weeks now, since the end of March,” said Tim Saunders, business and outreach coordinator with the Central Virginia Workforce Development Board. “We haven't seen the numbers in both measurements that low, since the end of March or the first part of April.”

The region’s unemployment rate in August was 5.9%, down from 7.4% in July. Though Saunders said the region’s unemployment rate was between three and four percent in August 2019, he said the region does appear to be on a positive trend.

“We're almost back to where we were at the opening of the pandemic, but we still have a long way to go,” Saunders said. “But we're getting there.”

Saunders also said unemployment is currently lower in the Greater Lynchburg area than the state’s average unemployment rate of slightly higher than six percent.

“We're either doing better or are right in line with similar-sized areas,” Saunders said.

Though it may not be as bad as when the pandemic first started, Saunders said there is still somewhat of a backlog for some who have filed recently for unemployment benefits.

“There are people who are still waiting to find out if they will be approved for benefits,” Saunders said. “But the number of people entering the system each week has gone way down,” Saunders said.

Though unemployment levels in the region are still high compared to previous years, Saunders said it is a good sign that they have fallen from month to month.

“We're headed in the right direction,” Saunders said.