The Virginia Employment Commission; not just for the unemployed Starting a new job is always exciting. For Sharon Ezeldin, that excitement wore off after one month; she sits in her office, surfing the Internet for a new job, every day. "My job is ok", said Sharon, the 28-year-old, college graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University. "It's not that I hate my job, it's just not what I want to keep doing". Prior to landing her current position at a well-known modeling agency, she had been unemployed for more than six months.

Her search ended when she found the marketing assistant position listed in the Washington Post. Sharon scoured the newspapers and popular job-hunting sites online, as well as going to local temporary job placement agencies. The one resource she did not visit, to save her from weeks of anguish, was the Virginia Employment Commission. Most people rely on the services of the VEC to claim unemployment benefits, if they have lost their job. In the past few years, the VEC has been underestimated as one of the foremost employment resources at hand. Now, the Commission is sought out as the first place to go to when searching for a career.

Nancy Dean, manager of the Alexandria VEC said, "We are the Employment Commission, not the Unemployment Commission". She explained that the unemployment rate for the Commonwealth of Virginia is at 3.0 percent, whereas the overall rate for the entire United States is at 5.0 percent. Dean added that the unemployment rate in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County are between 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent. According to Dean, "that's a very low rate". Nancy Dean explained that the reason for such outstanding numbers in the Northern Virginia location is because "this is one of the most highly educated parts of the country". Unfortunately, even the most educated people can lose their jobs.

According to Dean, the primary reason for unemployment in the Alexandria location would be due to the loss of employment contracts. For those workers who lose their contracts, they would be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. "To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have lost the job to no fault of your own", said Dean. At this time of year, most unemployment is due to the loss of seasonal jobs, such as landscaping, construction and tourism, but according to Dean, the unemployment rate in those sectors will decrease towards the spring. Carl Floyd is a Work Service Representative on rotation, at the front desk.

He believes that within the last six months, there has been "more of a decrease". However, he has noticed that most of the professionals that come in to claim unemployment or search for a new job are workers that are over 40 and have been laid off. Floyd believes that those lay-offs occur because "employers don't have to pay out retirement benefits". Carl added, "A younger person brings more energy and is more cost effective.".