For Release:
March 27, 2020
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 786-3976

Virginia’s Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate Declined 0.1 Percentage Point in February to 2.6 Percent

~ Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment rose by 11,100 jobs between January 2020 and February 2020 ~

RICHMOND— Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage point in February to 2.6 percent, which is 0.4 percentage point below the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in February, the labor force expanded for the twentieth consecutive month by 8,789, or 0.2 percent, to set a new record high of 4,462,717, as the number of unemployed residents fell by 1,049. The number of employed residents increased by 9,838 to set a new high of 4,345,451. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was little changed at 3.5 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 11,100 jobs in February to 4,106,800. January’s preliminary estimates were revised upward 4,000, adding to that month’s job growth. In February, private sector employment increased by 10,300 jobs to 3,372,000, while public sector payrolls increased by 800 jobs to 734,800.

From January 2020 to February 2020, seasonally adjusted employment increased in seven major industry divisions and decreased in four. The largest job gain during February occurred in leisure and hospitality with a gain of 3,400 jobs to 423,400. Other employment gains included finance (2,400 jobs) to 217,200, professional and business services (2,400 jobs) to 779,600, manufacturing (2,100 jobs) to 242,500, private education and health services (2,100 jobs) to 563,800, and information (+500 jobs) to 69,000. The largest loss during February occurred in construction (-1,200 jobs) to 203,700. The second largest loss was miscellaneous services (-700 jobs) to 202,700. The third largest employment loss was trade and transportation (-600 jobs) to 662,400. For total government, gains occurred in federal government (600 jobs) and state government (200 jobs) while local government was unchanged.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

January 2020 to
February 2020

February 2019 to
February 2020

February
2020

January
2020

February
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

4,106,800

4,095,700

4,043,400

11,100

0.3%

63,400

1.6%

Total Private Sector

3,372,000

3,361,700

3,316,300

10,300

0.3%

55,700

1.7%

Goods-Producing

453,900

453,100

454,500

800

0.2%

-600

-0.1%

   Mining

7,700

7,800

7,900

-100

-1.3%

-200

-2.5%

   Construction

203,700

204,900

202,500

-1,200

-0.6%

1,200

0.6%

   Manufacturing

242,500

240,400

244,100

2,100

0.9%

-1,600

-0.7%

Service-Providing

3,652,900

3,642,600

3,588,900

10,300

0.3%

64,000

1.8%

  Private Service-Providing

2,918,100

2,908,600

2,861,800

9,500

0.3%

56,300

2.0%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

662,400

663,000

659,900

-600

-0.1%

2,500

0.4%

   Information

69,000

68,500

67,400

500

0.7%

1,600

2.4%

   Finance

217,200

214,800

210,700

2,400

1.1%

6,500

3.1%

   Professional and Business Services

779,600

777,200

760,000

2,400

0.3%

19,600

2.6%

   Education and Health Services

563,800

561,700

551,300

2,100

0.4%

12,500

2.3%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

423,400

420,000

410,600

3,400

0.8%

12,800

3.1%

   Miscellaneous Services

202,700

203,400

201,900

-700

-0.3%

800

0.4%

  Government

734,800

734,000

727,100

800

0.1%

7,700

1.1%

   Federal Government

183,200

182,600

181,200

600

0.3%

2,000

1.1%

   State Government

162,700

162,500

160,300

200

0.1%

2,400

1.5%

   Local Government

388,900

388,900

385,600

0

0.0%

3,300

0.9%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From February 2019 to February 2020, BLS estimates that establishments in Virginia added 63,400 jobs, or 1.6 percent. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 71 consecutive months and gained momentum in recent months. In February, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 55,700 jobs, while employment in the public sector added 7,700 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, while two experienced employment losses. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in professional and business services, up 19,600 jobs (+2.6 percent). The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 12,800 jobs (+3.1 percent). Private education and health services experienced the third largest over-the-year job gain of 12,500 jobs      (+2.3 percent). Government experienced an over-the-year increase of 7,700 jobs (+1.1 percent). Within government, there were increases in local government employment (3,300 jobs), state government employment (2,400 jobs) and federal government employment (2,000 jobs). Other gains were in finance, up 6,500 jobs (+3.1 percent); trade and transportation, up 2,500 jobs (+0.4 percent); information, up 1,600 jobs (+2.4 percent); and construction, up 1,200 jobs (+0.6 percent). Job losses occurred in manufacturing, down 1,600 jobs (-0.7 percent), and mining, down 200 jobs (-2.5 percent).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Area

Employment

January 2020 to
February 2020

February 2019 to
February 2020

February
2020

January
2020

February
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

4,106,800

4,095,700

4,043,400

11,100

0.3%

63,400

1.6%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

78,500

78,400

78,500

100

0.1%

0

0.0%

Charlottesville MSA

122,700

122,800

119,900

-100

-0.1%

2,800

2.3%

Harrisonburg MSA

70,100

70,100

69,300

0

0.0%

800

1.2%

Lynchburg MSA

105,400

105,100

106,400

300

0.3%

-1,000

-0.9%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,534,600

1,529,700

1,504,400

4,900

0.3%

30,200

2.0%

Richmond MSA

698,000

695,800

685,000

2,200

0.3%

13,000

1.9%

Roanoke MSA

162,400

162,100

163,100

300

0.2%

-700

-0.4%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

52,200

52,000

51,600

200

0.4%

600

1.2%

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

800,100

798,500

796,000

1,600

0.2%

4,100

0.5%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

66,800

66,300

65,400

500

0.8%

1,400

2.1%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In February, eight metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains, one was unchanged, and one experienced job loss. The largest absolute job gain occurred in Northern Virginia (+4,900 jobs). The second largest absolute job gain occurred in Richmond (+2,200 jobs). The third largest absolute job gain was in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+1,600 jobs). Others with gains include Winchester (+500 jobs), Lynchburg (+300 jobs), Roanoke (+300 jobs), and Staunton-Waynesboro (+200 jobs). The sole job loss occurred in Charlottesville (-100 jobs).

Over the year, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment increased in seven of the ten metropolitan areas. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area experienced the largest absolute job gain, up 30,200 jobs (+2.0 percent). Richmond ranked second, with a gain of 13,000 jobs (+1.9 percent). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked third, with a gain of 4,100 jobs (+0.5 percent). The other over-the-year job gains occurred in Charlottesville (+2,800 jobs), Winchester (+1,400 jobs), Harrisonburg (+800 jobs), and Staunton (+600 jobs). Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford and Harrisonburg was unchanged over-the-year. Job losses occurred in Lynchburg (-1,000 jobs) and Roanoke (-700 jobs).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point in February to 2.8 percent, and was down 0.3 percentage point from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed decreased by 14,525, household employment increased by 108,004, and the labor force increased by 93,479. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which decreased 0.2 percentage point in February to 3.8 percent.

Compared to last month, the February unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 164,000 manufacturing production workers increased by 0.4 hour to 39.6 hours, average hourly earnings was unchanged at $19.25, while average weekly earnings rose $7.70 to $762.30. Compared to last February, the unadjusted workweek decreased by 0.5 hour, average hourly earnings decreased by $0.55, and average weekly earnings were lower by $31.68.

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 February 9-15, 2020.

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the February local area unemployment rates on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.  The data will be available on our website, www.VirginiaWorks.com.

The March statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Friday, April 17, 2020.

Files detailing February's unemployment numbers are available below: