For Release:
June 19, 2020
Contact:
Conrad Buckler
Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 786-8264 or (804) 786-7496

Virginia’s Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate Decreased to 9.4 Percent in May

~ Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 19,800 jobs between April 2020 and May 2020 ~

RICHMOND— Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 1.8 percentage points in May to 9.4 percent, which is 6.6 percentage points above the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in May, the labor force expanded by 5,783, or 0.1 percent, to 4,319,833, as the number of unemployed residents fell by 78,144. The number of employed residents increased by 83,927 to 3,915,866. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which fell to 13.3 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 19,800 jobs in May to 3,681,600. April’s preliminary estimates were revised downward 22,200, adding to that month’s job losses. In May, private sector employment increased by 40,700 jobs to 2,996,600, while public sector payrolls decreased by 20,900 jobs to 685,000.

From April 2020 to May 2020, seasonally adjusted employment increased in seven major industry divisions and decreased in four. The largest job gains during May occurred in leisure and hospitality with an increase of 19,900 jobs to 258,300. The second largest job gain was in professional and business services which increased 10,200 jobs to 738,500. Other employment gains included: education and health services (+6,200 jobs) to 499,400, trade and transportation (+4,300 jobs) to 606,300, construction (+2,700 jobs) to 200,000, miscellaneous services (+300 jobs) to 178,300, and mining, (+200 jobs) to 7,600.  

The largest job loss during April occurred in government employment which dropped by 20,900 jobs in May. For total government, a gain occurred in federal government (+100 jobs) and losses in state government (-5,900 jobs) and local government (-15,100 jobs). Other employment losses included: manufacturing (-1,300 jobs) to 228,600, information (-1,100 jobs) to 66,600, and finance (-700 jobs) to 213,000.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

April 2020 to
May 2020

May 2019 to
May 2020

May
2020

April
2020

May
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

3,681,600

3,661,800

4,049,700

19,800

0.5%

-368,100

-9.1%

Total Private Sector

2,996,600

2,955,900

3,321,100

40,700

1.4%

-324,500

-9.8%

Goods-Producing

436,200

434,600

455,000

1,600

0.4%

-18,800

-4.1%

   Mining

7,600

7,400

8,000

200

2.7%

-400

-5.0%

   Construction

200,000

197,300

203,100

2,700

1.4%

-3,100

-1.5%

   Manufacturing

228,600

229,900

243,900

-1,300

-0.6%

-15,300

-6.3%

Service-Providing

3,245,400

3,227,200

3,594,700

18,200

0.6%

-349,300

-9.7%

  Private Service-Providing

2,560,400

2,521,300

2,866,100

39,100

1.6%

-305,700

-10.7%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

606,300

602,000

659,100

4,300

0.7%

-52,800

-8.0%

   Information

66,600

67,700

67,900

-1,100

-1.6%

-1,300

-1.9%

   Finance

213,000

213,700

211,700

-700

-0.3%

1,300

0.6%

   Professional and Business Services

738,500

728,300

765,400

10,200

1.4%

-26,900

-3.5%

   Education and Health Services

499,400

493,200

551,700

6,200

1.3%

-52,300

-9.5%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

258,300

238,400

408,400

19,900

8.3%

-150,100

-36.8%

   Miscellaneous Services

178,300

178,000

201,900

300

0.2%

-23,600

-11.7%

  Government

685,000

705,900

728,600

-20,900

-3.0%

-43,600

-6.0%

   Federal Government

182,900

182,800

181,300

100

0.1%

1,600

0.9%

   State Government

146,700

152,600

160,500

-5,900

-3.9%

-13,800

-8.6%

   Local Government

355,400

370,500

386,800

-15,100

-4.1%

-31,400

-8.1%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From May 2019 to May 2020, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia lost 368,100 jobs, or 9.1 percent. In May, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 324,500 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 43,600 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, ten out of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment declines, with one experiencing a gain. The only job gain occurred in finance, up 1,300 jobs (+0.6%).

The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 150,100 jobs (-36.8%). The next largest job loss occurred in trade and transportation, down 52,800 jobs (-8.0%). Education and health services experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 52,300 jobs (-9.5%). Government experienced an over-the-year decrease of 43,600 jobs (-6.0%). Within government, federal experienced a small increase in employment (+1,600 jobs) while there were decreases in state government employment   (-13,800 jobs) and local government employment (-31,400 jobs). Other losses were in professional and business services down 26,900 jobs (-3.5%), miscellaneous services, down 23,600 jobs (-11.7%); manufacturing, down 15,300 jobs (-6.3%); construction, down 3,100 jobs (-1.5%); information, down 1,300 jobs (-1.9%); and mining down 400 jobs (-5.0%).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*

Area

Employment

April 2020 to
May 2020

May 2019 to
May 2020

May
2020

April
2020

May
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

3,681,600

3,661,800

4,049,700

19,800

0.5%

-368,100

-9.1%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

66,000

67,000

78,300

-1,000

-1.5%

-12,300

-15.7%

Charlottesville MSA

111,900

111,300

121,000

600

0.5%

-9,100

-7.5%

Harrisonburg MSA

62,300

62,200

69,400

100

0.2%

-7,100

-10.2%

Lynchburg MSA

94,400

95,200

105,900

-800

-0.8%

-11,500

-10.9%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,377,300

1,380,100

1,512,200

-2,800

-0.2%

-134,900

-8.9%

Richmond MSA

623,200

620,400

686,400

2,800

0.5%

-63,200

-9.2%

Roanoke MSA

146,300

147,400

162,500

-1,100

-0.7%

-16,200

-10.0%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

50,000

50,100

51,800

-100

-0.2%

-1,800

-3.5%

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

721,900

711,600

794,800

10,300

1.4%

-72,900

-9.2%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

59,400

58,700

65,400

700

1.2%

-6,000

-9.2%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In May, five metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains, and five experienced job losses. The largest absolute job gain occurred in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+10,300 jobs). The second largest absolute job gain occurred in Richmond (+2,800 jobs). The third largest absolute job gain was in Winchester (+700 jobs). Other gains include Charlottesville (+600 jobs), and Harrisonburg (+100 jobs). The largest absolute job loss occurred in Northern Virginia (-2,800 jobs). The second largest absolute job loss occurred in Roanoke (-1,100 jobs). The third largest absolute job loss was in Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (-1,000 jobs). Other losses include Lynchburg (-800 jobs) and Staunton-Waynesboro (-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 134,900 jobs (-8.9%). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked second, with a loss of 72,900 jobs (-9.2%). Richmond ranked third with a decline of 63,200 jobs (-9.2%).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate fell 1.6 percentage points in May to 9.2 percent, and was up 6.5 percentage points from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed increased by 279,756, household employment decreased by 349,588, and the labor force decreased by 69,832. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which fell by 1.4 percentage points in May to 13.0 percent.

Compared to last month, the May unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 154,700 manufacturing production workers increased by 0.6 hours to 38.1 hours. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production workers increased by $.57 to $21.13 in May. Average weekly earnings rose $34.05 to $805.05.

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

The statistical reference week for the household survey this month was the week of May 10-16, 2020.

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the May local area unemployment rates on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.  The data will be available on our website, www.VirginiaWorks.com.

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

Files detailing April's unemployment numbers are available below: