For Release:
March 16, 2020
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 786-3976

Virginia’s Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate Held Steady in January at 2.7 Percent

~ Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment rose by 3,800 jobs between December 2019 and January 2020 ~

RICHMOND— Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged in January at 2.7 percent after BLS annual benchmark revisions, which is 0.3 percentage point below the rate from a year ago. The December 2019 rate of 2.6%, which was reported on January 20, 2020, was preliminary and has been revised. According to household survey data in January, the labor force expanded for the nineteenth consecutive month by 10,590, or 0.2 percent, to set a new record high of 4,453,902, as the number of unemployed residents fell by 282. The number of employed residents increased by 10,872 to set a new high of 4,335,566. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was little changed at 3.6 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 3,800 jobs in January to 4,091,700. After annual benchmark revisions, December’s preliminary estimates were revised upward 34,100, adding to that month’s job growth. In January, private sector employment increased by 2,100 jobs to 3,358,000, while public sector payrolls increased by 1,700 jobs to 733,700.

From December 2019 to January 2020, seasonally adjusted employment increased in five major industry divisions, was unchanged in three, and decreased in three. The largest job gain during January occurred in trade and transportation with a gain of 3,000 jobs to 662,500. Other employment gains included construction (1,800 jobs) to 204,900, government (1,700 jobs) to 733,700, and miscellaneous services (1,000 jobs) to 203,700. The largest loss during January occurred in manufacturing (-3,200 jobs) to 240,400. The second largest loss was information (-400 jobs) to 68,300. The third employment loss was professional and business services (-300 jobs) to 774,800. For total government, gains occurred in local government (1,200 jobs), state government (300 jobs) and federal government (200 jobs).

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

December 2019 to
January 2020

January 2019 to
January 2020

January
2020

December
2019

January
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

4,091,700

4,087,900

4,042,000

3,800

0.1%

49,700

1.2%

Total Private Sector

3,358,000

3,355,900

3,316,000

2,100

0.1%

42,000

1.3%

Goods-Producing

453,100

454,500

454,700

-1,400

-0.3%

-1,600

-0.4%

   Mining

7,800

7,800

7,800

0

0.0%

0

0.0%

   Construction

204,900

203,100

203,000

1,800

0.9%

1,900

0.9%

   Manufacturing

240,400

243,600

243,900

-3,200

-1.3%

-3,500

-1.4%

Service-Providing

3,638,600

3,633,400

3,587,300

5,200

0.1%

51,300

1.4%

  Private Service-Providing

2,904,900

2,901,400

2,861,300

3,500

0.1%

43,600

1.5%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

662,500

659,500

661,900

3,000

0.5%

600

0.1%

   Information

68,300

68,700

67,500

-400

-0.6%

800

1.2%

   Finance

214,600

214,600

210,400

0

0.0%

4,200

2.0%

   Professional and Business Services

774,800

775,100

760,000

-300

0.0%

14,800

1.9%

   Education and Health Services

563,400

563,400

549,200

0

0.0%

14,200

2.6%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

417,600

417,400

411,100

200

0.0%

6,500

1.6%

   Miscellaneous Services

203,700

202,700

201,200

1,000

0.5%

2,500

1.2%

  Government

733,700

732,000

726,000

1,700

0.2%

7,700

1.1%

   Federal Government

182,400

182,200

180,500

200

0.1%

1,900

1.1%

   State Government

162,300

162,000

160,600

300

0.2%

1,700

1.1%

   Local Government

389,000

387,800

384,900

1,200

0.3%

4,100

1.1%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From January 2019 to January 2020, BLS estimates that establishments in Virginia added 49,700 jobs, or 1.2 percent. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 70 consecutive months and lost little momentum in recent months. In January, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 42,000 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 one was unchanged and one experienced an employment loss. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in professional and business services, up 14,800 jobs (+1.9 percent). The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in private education and health services, up 14,200 jobs (+2.6 percent). Government experienced the third largest over-the-year job gain of 7,700 jobs (+1.1 percent). Within government, there were increases in local government employment (4,100 jobs), federal government employment (1,900 jobs) and state government employment (1,700 jobs). Other gains were in leisure and hospitality, up 6,500 jobs (+1.6 percent); finance, up 4,200 jobs       (+2.0 percent); miscellaneous services, up 2,500 jobs (+1.2 percent); and construction, up 1,900 jobs (+0.9 percent). The sole job loss occurred in manufacturing, down 3,500 jobs (-1.4 percent).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Area

Employment

December 2019 to
January 2020

January 2019 to
January 2020

January
2020

December
2019

January
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

4,091,700

4,087,900

4,042,000

3,800

0.1%

49,700

1.2%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

78,500

78,200

78,200

300

0.4%

300

0.4%

Charlottesville MSA

122,800

122,200

120,000

600

0.5%

2,800

2.3%

Harrisonburg MSA

70,100

69,900

69,000

200

0.3%

1,100

1.6%

Lynchburg MSA

104,900

104,800

106,200

100

0.1%

-1,300

-1.2%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,526,800

1,530,400

1,501,400

-3,600

-0.2%

25,400

1.7%

Richmond MSA

694,500

693,400

685,700

1,100

0.2%

8,800

1.3%

Roanoke MSA

162,100

161,800

163,000

300

0.2%

-900

-0.6%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

52,000

52,100

51,400

-100

-0.2%

600

1.2%

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

798,100

798,000

797,300

100

0.0%

800

0.1%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

66,200

66,400

65,300

-200

-0.3%

900

1.4%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In January, seven metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains while three experienced job losses. The largest absolute job gain occurred in Richmond (+1,100 jobs). The second largest absolute job gain occurred in Charlottesville (+600 jobs). The third largest absolute job gain was in Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford and Harrisonburg (+300 jobs). The largest job loss occurred in Northern Virginia    (-3,600 jobs). Others with declines include Winchester (-200 jobs) and Staunton (-100 jobs).

Over the year, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment increased in eight of the ten metropolitan areas. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area experienced the largest absolute job gain, up 25,400 jobs (+1.7 percent). Richmond ranked second, with a gain of 8,800 jobs (+1.3 percent). Charlottesville ranked third, with a gain of 2,800 jobs (+2.3 percent). The other over-the-year job gains occurred in Harrisonburg (+1,100 jobs), Winchester (+900 jobs), Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+800 jobs); Staunton (+600 jobs), and Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford and Harrisonburg (+300 jobs). Job losses occurred in Lynchburg (-1,300 jobs) and Roanoke (-900 jobs).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage point in January to 3.0 percent, but was down 0.4 percentage point from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed decreased by 14,966, household employment increased by 104,464, and the labor force increased by 89,498. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which increased 0.6 percentage point in January to 4.0 percent.

Compared to last month, the January unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 163,700 manufacturing production workers decreased by 0.7 hour to 39.0 hours, average hourly earnings decreased $0.19 to $19.22, while average weekly earnings fell $21.00 to $749.58. Compared to last January, the unadjusted workweek decreased by 0.9 hour, average hourly earnings decreased by $0.87, and average weekly earnings were lower by $52.01.

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. In addition, 2019 civilian labor force and unemployment (the “household survey”) estimates for Virginia and sub-state areas were revised to incorporate updated inputs, new population controls, and reestimation of models. They were also re-seasonally adjusted and adjusted to new census division and national control totals. Nonfarm payroll employment (the “establishment survey”) estimates for Virginia and metro areas were also adjusted to 2019 benchmark levels.

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

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the January local area unemployment rates on Friday, March 20, 2020.  The data will be available on our website, www.VirginiaWorks.com.

The February statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Friday, March 27, 2020.

Files detailing January's unemployment numbers are available below: