Counting the county’s self-employed

Information in a recent report about Rappahannock County employment by the Weldon Cooper Center of UVA (‘Four times more residents commute,’ April 5) provides a good example of how statistics can be misleading. The report states that 2,025 county residents commute outside the county to work and that 531 work inside the county (a total of 2,556 people).

However, the US Census Bureau finds that 3,495 county adults are employed. Where are the missing 939 workers? In all likelihood, they are the ‘self employed and informally employed’ people who were not included in the UVA report, people such as farmers, small business owners, artists, cleaning ladies, lawn care workers, etc., a group that is significant in our county.

If these are added back to the 531 people in the report, there are 1,470 county residents who work in the county, which is 42 percent of the 3,495 residents who work. This percentage is the same as that of an analysis of the 2000 US census which found that 43 percent of employed Rappahannock County residents work in the county.

Maureen Harris


Editor’s note: This newspaper made clear in the article that “self employed and informally employed individuals — which Rappahannock County certainly has its share of — are excluded from the data, so it is likely that more Rappahannock residents are working inside the county. At the same time, U.S. military and federal employees who work at U.S. intelligence or national security agencies are excluded in the data, which could mean additional Rappahannock County residents are commuting to those agencies.”

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