For Release:
January 24, 2020
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 786-3976

Virginia’s Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate Held Steady in December at 2.6 Percent

~ Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment was up 5,200 jobs between November 2019 and December 2019 ~

RICHMOND— Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged in December at 2.6 percent, which is 0.2 percentage point below the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in December, the labor force expanded for the eighteenth consecutive month by 14,058, or 0.3 percent to set a new record high of 4,454,888, as the number of unemployed residents rose by 324. The number of employed residents increased by 13,734 to set a new high of 4,338,521. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged at 3.5 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, increased by 5,200 jobs in December to 4,053,800. November’s preliminary estimates were revised downward 700, subtracting slightly from that month’s positive job growth. In December, private sector employment increased by 6,100 jobs to 3,335,200, while public sector payrolls decreased by 900 jobs to 718,600.

From November 2019 to December 2019, seasonally adjusted employment increased in six major industry divisions, was unchanged in one, and decreased in four. The largest job gain during December occurred in private education and health services with a gain of 2,900 jobs to 560,200. Other employment gains included finance (1,500 jobs) to 212,500, professional and business services (1,500 jobs) to 760,500, and leisure and hospitality (1,200 jobs) to 428,200. The largest loss during December occurred in manufacturing (-1,100 jobs) to 247,400. The second largest loss was government (-900 jobs) to 718,600. A third employment loss was miscellaneous services (-500 jobs) to 201,700. For total government, a gain occurred in state government (100 jobs) while federal government (-800 jobs) and local government (-200 jobs) lost jobs.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

November 2019 to
December 2019

December 2018 to
December 2019

December
2019

November
2019

December
2018

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

4,053,800

4,048,600

4,008,600

5,200

0.1%

45,200

1.1%

Total Private Sector

3,335,200

3,329,100

3,284,600

6,100

0.2%

50,600

1.5%

Goods-Producing

454,100

455,000

449,300

-900

-0.2%

4,800

1.1%

   Mining

8,200

8,200

7,800

0

0.0%

400

5.1%

   Construction

198,500

198,300

197,500

200

0.1%

1,000

0.5%

   Manufacturing

247,400

248,500

244,000

-1,100

-0.4%

3,400

1.4%

Service-Providing

3,599,700

3,593,600

3,559,300

6,100

0.2%

40,400

1.1%

  Private Service-Providing

2,881,100

2,874,100

2,835,300

7,000

0.2%

45,800

1.6%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

654,800

654,000

658,700

800

0.1%

-3,900

-0.6%

   Information

63,200

63,600

64,800

-400

-0.6%

-1,600

-2.5%

   Finance

212,500

211,000

205,200

1,500

0.7%

7,300

3.6%

   Professional and Business Services

760,500

759,000

750,500

1,500

0.2%

10,000

1.3%

   Education and Health Services

560,200

557,300

543,500

2,900

0.5%

16,700

3.1%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

428,200

427,000

410,800

1,200

0.3%

17,400

4.2%

   Miscellaneous Services

201,700

202,200

201,800

-500

-0.2%

-100

0.0%

  Government

718,600

719,500

724,000

-900

-0.1%

-5,400

-0.7%

   Federal Government

179,500

180,300

179,400

-800

-0.4%

100

0.1%

   State Government

161,100

161,000

159,700

100

0.1%

1,400

0.9%

   Local Government

378,000

378,200

384,900

-200

-0.1%

-6,900

-1.8%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From December 2018 to December 2019, BLS estimates that establishments in Virginia added 45,200 jobs, or 1.1 percent. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 69 consecutive months and has accelerated slightly in recent months. In December, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 50,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector decreased by 5,400 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, seven of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, while four experienced employment losses. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 17,400 jobs (+4.2 percent). The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in private education and health services, up 16,700 jobs (+3.1 percent). Professional and business services experienced the third largest over-the-year job gain of 10,000 jobs (+1.3 percent). Other gains were in finance, up 7,300 jobs (+3.6 percent); manufacturing, up 3,400 jobs (+1.4 percent); construction, up 1,000 jobs (+0.5 percent); and mining, up 400 jobs (+5.1 percent). The largest job loss occurred government, down 5,400 jobs (-0.7 percent). The second largest was in trade and transportation, down by 3,900 jobs (-0.6 percent). Government saw gains in state government employment (1,400 jobs) and federal government employment (100 jobs) along with a loss in local government employment (-6,900 jobs).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Area

Employment

November 2019 to
December 2019

December 2018 to
December 2019

December
2019

November
2019

December
2018

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

4,053,800

4,048,600

4,008,600

5,200

0.1%

45,200

1.1%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

77,700

77,600

76,700

100

0.1%

1,000

1.3%

Charlottesville MSA

119,900

119,700

118,200

200

0.2%

1,700

1.4%

Harrisonburg MSA

69,500

69,500

68,500

0

0.0%

1,000

1.5%

Lynchburg MSA

105,300

106,200

105,400

-900

-0.8%

-100

-0.1%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,517,000

1,518,700

1,496,800

-1,700

-0.1%

20,200

1.3%

Richmond MSA

692,900

690,600

680,600

2,300

0.3%

12,300

1.8%

Roanoke MSA

164,500

164,900

161,100

-400

-0.2%

3,400

2.1%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

51,900

51,900

51,200

0

0.0%

700

1.4%

Virginia Beach-
Norfolk-Newport News,
Virginia/North Carolina MSA

796,600

794,600

788,200

2,000

0.3%

8,400

1.1%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

66,200

66,200

64,800

0

0.0%

1,400

2.2%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In December, four metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains, three were unchanged, and three experienced losses. The largest absolute job gain occurred in Richmond (+2,300 jobs). The second largest absolute job gain occurred in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+2,000 jobs). The third largest absolute job gain was in Charlottesville (+200 jobs). The largest job loss occurred in Northern Virginia       (-1,700 jobs). Others with declines include Lynchburg (-900 jobs); and Roanoke (-400 jobs).

Over the year, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment increased in nine of the ten metropolitan areas. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area experienced the largest absolute job gain, up 20,200 jobs (+1.3 percent). Richmond ranked second, with a gain of 12,300 jobs (+1.8 percent). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked third, with a gain of 8,400 jobs (+1.1 percent). The other over-the-year job gains occurred in Roanoke (+3,400 jobs); Charlottesville (+1,700 jobs); Winchester (+1,400 jobs); Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford and Harrisonburg (+1,000 jobs each) and Staunton (+700 jobs). The sole job loss occurred in Lynchburg (-100 jobs).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage point in December to 2.5 percent, but was down 0.1 percentage point from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed decreased by 3,725, household employment increased by 137,354, and the labor force increased by 133,629. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which increased 0.1 percentage point in December to 3.4 percent.

Compared to last month, the December unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 169,300 manufacturing production workers increased by 0.3 hour to 40.3 hours, average hourly earnings increased $0.09 to $19.48, while average weekly earnings rose $9.44 to $785.04. Compared to last December, the unadjusted workweek increased by 0.6 hour, average hourly earnings decreased by $0.44, and average weekly earnings were lower by $5.78.

Technical note: Estimates of unemployment and industry employment levels are obtained from two separate monthly surveys. Resident employment and unemployment data are mainly derived from the Virginia portion of the national Current Population Survey (CPS), a household survey conducted each month by the U.S. Census Bureau under contract with BLS, which provides input to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program (often referred to as the “household” survey). Industry employment data is mainly derived from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, a monthly survey of approximately 18,000 Virginia businesses conducted by BLS, which provides estimates of employment, hours, and earnings data broken down by industry for the nation as a whole, all states and most major metropolitan areas (often referred to as the “establishment” survey). Both industry and household estimates are revised each month based on additional information from updated survey reports compiled by the BLS.

The statistical reference week for the household survey this month was the week of December 8-14, 2019.

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the December local area unemployment rates on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.  The data will be available on our website, www.VirginiaWorks.com.

The January statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Files detailing December's unemployment numbers are available below: