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Governor McAuliffe Announces Commonwealth’s Unemployment Drops to Lowest Rate in Nine Years

March 24, 2017 - Richmond - Cary Street

~ Unemployment rate down to 3.9% ~

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down 0.1 percentage point in February to 3.9 percent, the lowest rate since June 2008. When Governor McAuliffe took office in January 2014, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues below the national rate, which was down 0.1 percentage point to 4.7 percent and announced earlier this month. Since Governor McAuliffe entered office, Virginia has added 191,600 net new jobs.

“This report confirms we are continuing to make great strides in building a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “To date, my Administration has helped close 902 economic development deals worth a record-breaking $15.6 billion in investment, ensuring thousands of jobs for Virginians in 21st century industries. I’m pleased to see yet another decline in the unemployment rate, as well as record highs in our labor force and household employment. Today’s announcement is a positive sign that our economy is strengthening thanks to targeted investments in key sectors.”

Virginia has the second-lowest unemployment rate of any major U.S. state. In addition, initial claims filed in 2016 for unemployment insurance benefits were the lowest Virginia has seen in 44 years, going back to 1973.

“Virginia continues to grow its economy, and this administration will continue to ensure economic opportunity exists for everyone across the Commonwealth. We have been focused on matching skills training to jobs, investing in our education system, and providing a competitive environment for businesses to thrive. By doing so, Virginia will continue to see economic progress,” said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam.

Virginia’s labor force expanded for the 11th consecutive month to 4,281,022, up more than 7,300 people in February, setting a new record high for the Commonwealth. Household employment also rose by more than 13,400, the 26th consecutive monthly increase and another record high. Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 11,400 jobs in February and is 53,500 jobs higher when compared to February of 2016.

“Today’s announcement highlights continued increases in employment and labor force expansion across the Commonwealth, a cornerstone of the Governor’s mandate to build a new Virginia economy,” added Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Even with this great news, we will continue our efforts with the General Assembly and the private sector to further enhance Virginia’s business climate by encouraging increased investment and jobs creation opportunities, putting more Virginians to work and making Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Virginia’s over-the-year employment growth was 1.4 percent in February and has been positive for 35 consecutive months. With February’s over-the-year employment growth and January’s revised over-the-year growth of 1.3 percent, Virginia’s growth was once again above 1.0 percent after falling below 1.0 percent in November and December.  Nationally, total nonfarm employment grew 1.6 percent in February compared to a year ago.

In January, the private sector recorded an over-the-year employment gain of 48,800 jobs, and the public sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 4,700 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, seven of the 11 major industry divisions experienced employment gains.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at