For Release:
May 22, 2020
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Senior Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 486-2624

The Virginia unemployment rate rose to 10.6 percent in April while total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 383,400

~ The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. ~

RICHMOND— Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 7.3 percentage points in April to 10.6 percent, which is 7.7 percentage points above the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in April, the labor force contracted by 141,611, or 3.2 percent, to 4,297,739, as the number of unemployed residents rose by 308,629. The number of employed residents decreased by 450,240 to 3,843,816. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which rose to 14.7 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, fell by 383,400 jobs in April to 3,684,000. March’s preliminary estimates were revised downward 3,900, adding to that month’s job losses. In April, private sector employment decreased by 351,900 jobs to 2,981,000, while public sector payrolls decreased by 31,500 jobs to 703,000.

Employment fell in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality. The largest job loss during April occurred in leisure and hospitality with a decline of 161,400 jobs to 240,800. Nationwide, much of the decrease within the leisure and hospitality sector occurred in food services and drinking places, but employment also fell in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry and in the accommodation industry. Other employment losses included education and health services  (-57,400 jobs) to 497,800, trade and transportation (-49,100 jobs) to 611,700, professional and business services (-43,700 jobs) to 730,200, miscellaneous services (-19,900 jobs) to 182,800, construction (-7,200 jobs) to 196,200, and manufacturing (-6,300 jobs) to 233,800. Government employment dropped by 31,500 jobs in April. Employment in local government was down by 19,000 jobs, and declined in state government (-11,600 jobs) while federal government slipped by 900 jobs.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

March 2020 to
April 2020

April 2019 to
April 2020

April
2020

March
2020

April
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

3,684,000

4,067,400

4,049,200

-383,400

-9.4%

-365,200

-9.0%

Total Private Sector

2,981,000

3,332,900

3,320,900

-351,900

-10.6%

-339,900

-10.2%

Goods-Producing

437,500

451,200

455,000

-13,700

-3.0%

-17,500

-3.8%

   Mining

7,500

7,700

8,000

-200

-2.6%

-500

-6.3%

   Construction

196,200

203,400

202,600

-7,200

-3.5%

-6,400

-3.2%

   Manufacturing

233,800

240,100

244,400

-6,300

-2.6%

-10,600

-4.3%

Service-Providing

3,246,500

3,616,200

3,594,200

-369,700

-10.2%

-347,700

-9.7%

  Private Service-Providing

2,543,500

2,881,700

2,865,900

-338,200

-11.7%

-322,400

-11.2%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

611,700

660,800

660,400

-49,100

-7.4%

-48,700

-7.4%

   Information

66,000

67,600

67,800

-1,600

-2.4%

-1,800

-2.7%

   Finance

214,200

219,300

211,300

-5,100

-2.3%

2,900

1.4%

   Professional and Business Services

730,200

773,900

763,400

-43,700

-5.6%

-33,200

-4.3%

   Education and Health Services

497,800

555,200

552,000

-57,400

-10.3%

-54,200

-9.8%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

240,800

402,200

409,800

-161,400

-40.1%

-169,000

-41.2%

   Miscellaneous Services

182,800

202,700

201,200

-19,900

-9.8%

-18,400

-9.1%

  Government

703,000

734,500

728,300

-31,500

-4.3%

-25,300

-3.5%

   Federal Government

182,800

183,700

180,800

-900

-0.5%

2,000

1.1%

   State Government

150,600

162,200

161,000

-11,600

-7.2%

-10,400

-6.5%

   Local Government

369,600

388,600

386,500

-19,000

-4.9%

-16,900

-4.4%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From April 2019 to April 2020, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia lost 365,200 jobs, or nine percent. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia had been positive for 72 consecutive months leading up to April’s sharp decline. In April, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 339,900 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 25,300 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, ten out of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment declines, with some experiencing more severe losses than others. The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 169,000 jobs (-41.2%). The next largest over-the-year job loss occurred in education and health services, down 54,200 jobs (-9.8%). Trade and transportation experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 48,700 jobs (-7.4%). Professional and business services lost 33,200 jobs (-4.3%). Government experienced an over-the-year decrease of 25,300 jobs (-3.5%). Within government, there were decreases in state government employment (-10,400 jobs) and local government employment (-16,900 jobs). Federal government experienced a small increase in employment (+2,000 jobs). Other losses were in miscellaneous services, down 18,400 jobs (-9.1%); manufacturing, down 10,600 jobs (-4.3%); construction, down 6,400 jobs (-3.2%); information, down 1,800 jobs (-2.7%); and mining down 500 jobs (-6.3%). The sole increase occurred in finance, up 2,900 jobs (+1.4%).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*

Area

Employment

March 2020 to
April 2020

April 2019 to
April 2020

April
2020

March
2020

April
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

3,684,000

4,067,400

4,049,200

-383,400

-9.4%

-365,200

-9.0%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

66,900

77,400

78,500

-10,500

-13.6%

-11,600

-14.8%

Charlottesville MSA

111,700

122,900

121,600

-11,200

-9.1%

-9,900

-8.1%

Harrisonburg MSA

62,400

68,400

69,400

-6,000

-8.8%

-7,000

-10.1%

Lynchburg MSA

92,100

105,400

106,200

-13,300

-12.6%

-14,100

-13.3%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,383,000

1,522,000

1,510,300

-139,000

-9.1%

-127,300

-8.4%

Richmond MSA

619,200

689,500

686,000

-70,300

-10.2%

-66,800

-9.7%

Roanoke MSA

145,500

162,200

163,000

-16,700

-10.3%

-17,500

-10.7%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

50,300

51,400

51,700

-1,100

-2.1%

-1,400

-2.7%

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

721,200

797,100

794,600

-75,900

-9.5%

-73,400

-9.2%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

59,600

66,000

65,400

-6,400

-9.7%

-5,800

-8.9%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In April, all metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job losses. The largest absolute job loss occurred in Northern Virginia (-139,000 jobs). The second largest absolute job loss occurred in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (-75,900 jobs). The third largest absolute job loss was in Richmond (-70,300 jobs). Other losses include Roanoke (-16,700 jobs), Lynchburg (-13,300 jobs), Charlottesville (-11,200 jobs), Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Staunton-Waynesboro (-10,500 jobs), Winchester (-6,400 jobs), Harrisonburg (-6,000 jobs), and Staunton (-1,100 jobs).

Over the year, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment decreased in all of the ten metropolitan areas. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area experienced the largest absolute job loss, down 127,300 jobs (-8.4%). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked second, with a loss of 73,400 jobs (-9.2%). Richmond ranked third with a decline of 66,800 jobs (-9.7%).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate climbed 7.5 percentage points in April to 10.8 percent, and was up 8.4 percentage points from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed increased by 359,412, household employment decreased by 432,952, and the labor force decreased by 73,540. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which rose by 9.9 percentage points in April to 14.4 percent.

Compared to last month, the April unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 157,800 manufacturing production workers decreased by 1.9 hours to 37.3 hours. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production workers increased by $.97 to $20.72 in April. According to BLS, the increases in average hourly earnings largely reflect the substantial job loss among lower-paid workers; this change put upward pressure on the average hourly earnings estimates. Average weekly earnings fell $1.34 to $772.86.

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. For information on how COVID-19 affected collection of the BLS establishment and household surveys in April, refer to the BLS April 2020 Employment Situation press release for details.

The statistical reference week for the household survey this month was the week of April 12-18, 2020.

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the April local area unemployment rates on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.  The data will be available on our website, www.VirginiaWorks.com.

The May statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Friday, June 19, 2020.


Files detailing April's unemployment numbers are available below: