For Release:
October 20, 2020
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Senior Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 486-2624

The Virginia unemployment rate rose to 6.2 percent in September while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 9,200

~ The recent 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 edged upward 0.1 of a percentage point in September to 6.2 percent, which is 3.5 percentage points above the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in September, the labor force fell by 71,954, or 1.7 percent, to 4,279,495, as the number of unemployed residents declined by 2,546. The number of employed residents decreased by 69,408 to 4,015,630. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which fell to 7.9 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 9,200 jobs in September to 3,857,100. August’s preliminary estimate was revised downward by 2,300, subtracting from that month’s job gains. In September, private sector employment increased by 20,800 jobs to 3,151,300, while public sector payrolls decreased by 11,600 jobs to 705,800.

Employment rose in nine of eleven major industry sectors, was unchanged in one, and declined in one. The largest job gains during September occurred in leisure and hospitality with an increase of 5,400 jobs to 331,700 and professional and business services (+5,400 jobs) to 740,300. Other increases include trade and transportation (+3,500 jobs) to 647,400, manufacturing (+2,700 jobs) to 228,400, finance (+1,600 jobs) to 208,900, miscellaneous (+1,200 jobs) to 194,500, information (+800 jobs) to 66,200, construction (+100 jobs) to 207,900, and education and health services (+100 jobs) to 518,900. Mining was unchanged at 7,100 jobs over the month while government employment fell by 11,600 jobs to 705,800. Much of the decrease within that sector occurred in local government (-10,300 jobs), but employment also fell in state government (-2,000 jobs), while federal government rose slightly (+700 jobs).

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

August 2020 to
September 2020

September 2019 to
September 2020

September
2020

August
2020

September
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

3,857,100

3,847,900

4,064,200

9,200

0.2%

-207,100

-5.1%

Total Private Sector

3,151,300

3,130,500

3,331,500

20,800

0.7%

-180,200

-5.4%

Goods-Producing

443,400

440,600

454,100

2,800

0.6%

-10,700

-2.4%

   Mining

7,100

7,100

7,800

0

0.0%

-700

-9.0%

   Construction

207,900

207,800

204,100

100

0.0%

3,800

1.9%

   Manufacturing

228,400

225,700

242,200

2,700

1.2%

-13,800

-5.7%

Service-Providing

3,413,700

3,407,300

3,610,100

6,400

0.2%

-196,400

-5.4%

  Private Service-Providing

2,707,900

2,689,900

2,877,400

18,000

0.7%

-169,500

-5.9%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

647,400

643,900

657,800

3,500

0.5%

-10,400

-1.6%

   Information

66,200

65,400

68,700

800

1.2%

-2,500

-3.6%

   Finance

208,900

207,300

212,900

1,600

0.8%

-4,000

-1.9%

   Professional and Business Services

740,300

734,900

770,200

5,400

0.7%

-29,900

-3.9%

   Education and Health Services

518,900

518,800

557,400

100

0.0%

-38,500

-6.9%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

331,700

326,300

408,100

5,400

1.7%

-76,400

-18.7%

   Miscellaneous Services

194,500

193,300

202,300

1,200

0.6%

-7,800

-3.9%

  Government

705,800

717,400

732,700

-11,600

-1.6%

-26,900

-3.7%

   Federal Government

191,900

191,200

181,900

700

0.4%

10,000

5.5%

   State Government

148,000

150,000

161,700

-2,000

-1.3%

-13,700

-8.5%

   Local Government

365,900

376,200

389,100

-10,300

-2.7%

-23,200

-6.0%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From September 2019 to September 2020, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia lost 207,100 jobs, a decrease of 5.1%. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia had been positive for 72 consecutive months leading up to April’s sharp decline. In September, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 180,200 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 26,900 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 76,400 jobs (-18.7%). The next largest over-the-year job loss occurred in education and health services, down 38,500 jobs (-6.9%). Professional and business services experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 29,900 jobs   (-3.9%). Government employment declined by 26,900 (-3.7%). Within government, there were decreases in local government employment (-23,200 jobs) and state government employment (-13,700 jobs). Federal government experienced an increase in employment (+10,000 jobs). Manufacturing lost 13,800 jobs (-5.7%) while trade and transportation shed 10,400 jobs (-1.6%). Other losses were in miscellaneous services, down 7,800 jobs (-3.9%); finance, down 4,000 jobs (-1.9%); information, down 2,500 jobs (-3.6%); and mining down 700 jobs (-9.0%). The sole increase occurred in construction, up 3,800 jobs (+1.9%).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*

Area

Employment

August 2020 to
September 2020

September 2019 to
September 2020

September
2020

August
2020

September
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

3,857,100

3,847,900

4,064,200

9,200

0.2%

-207,100

-5.1%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

73,600

73,000

78,000

600

0.8%

-4,400

-5.6%

Charlottesville MSA

115,100

116,200

121,800

-1,100

-0.9%

-6,700

-5.5%

Harrisonburg MSA

65,600

66,100

69,600

-500

-0.8%

-4,000

-5.7%

Lynchburg MSA

97,200

98,600

105,600

-1,400

-1.4%

-8,400

-8.0%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,448,100

1,440,000

1,519,900

8,100

0.6%

-71,800

-4.7%

Richmond MSA

652,200

650,500

686,300

1,700

0.3%

-34,100

-5.0%

Roanoke MSA

154,000

153,500

161,800

500

0.3%

-7,800

-4.8%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

52,200

52,700

51,800

-500

-0.9%

400

0.8%

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

756,300

754,600

795,100

1,700

0.2%

-38,800

-4.9%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

60,500

60,300

65,800

200

0.3%

-5,300

-8.1%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In September, six metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains while four experienced losses over-the-month. The largest absolute job increase occurred in Northern Virginia (+8,100 jobs). The next largest absolute job gains occurred in Richmond and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+1,700 jobs each). Other increases include Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (+600 jobs), Roanoke (+500 jobs), and Winchester (+200 jobs). The largest monthly employment decline occurred in Lynchburg (-1,400 jobs), followed by Charlottesville (-1,100 jobs). Harrisonburg and Staunton-Waynesboro both declined by 500 jobs.

Over the year, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment decreased in nine of the ten metropolitan areas. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area experienced the largest absolute job loss, down 71,800 jobs (-4.7%). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked second, with a loss of 38,800 jobs (-4.9%). Richmond ranked third with a decline of 34,100 jobs (-5.0%). Other over-the-year job losses occurred in Lynchburg (-8,400 jobs), Roanoke (-7,800 jobs), Charlottesville (-6,700 jobs), Winchester (-5,300 jobs), Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (-4,400 jobs), and Harrisonburg (-4,000 jobs). Staunton-Waynesboro added 400 jobs and was the only metropolitan area with a positive change over the year.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.3 of a percentage point in September to 6.0 percent, and was up 3.4 percentage points from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed increased by 143,693, household employment decreased by 294,137, and the labor force decreased by 150,444. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which fell by 0.8 of a percentage point in September to 7.7 percent.

Compared to last month, the September unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 153,300 manufacturing production workers decreased by 1.5 hours to 39.2 hours. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production workers increased by $.27 to $20.30 in September and average weekly earnings fell $19.46 to $795.76.

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 September, refer to the BLS September 2020 Employment Situation press release for details.

The statistical reference week for the household survey this month was the week of September 6-12, 2020.

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the September local area unemployment rates on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. The data will be available on our website www.VirginiaWorks.com.

The October statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Friday, November 20, 2020.

Files detailing September's unemployment numbers are available below: