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

The Virginia unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in October while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 34,000

~ 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 declined 0.9 of a percentage point in October to 5.3 percent, which is 2.6 percentage points above the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in October, the labor force fell by 15,589, or 0.4 percent, to 4,276,695, as the number of unemployed residents declined by 40,454. The number of employed residents increased by 24,865 to 4,049,466. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which fell to 6.9 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 34,000 jobs in October to 3,898,800. September’s preliminary estimate was revised upward by 7,700, adding to that month’s job gains. In October, private sector employment increased by 36,700 jobs to 3,192,400, while public sector payrolls decreased by 2,700 jobs to 706,400.

Employment rose in eight of eleven major industry sectors, was unchanged in one, and declined in two. The largest job gain during October occurred in leisure and hospitality with an increase of 13,300 jobs to 346,200. The second largest increase occurred in trade and transportation (+8,400 jobs) to 653,900. Other increases included professional and business services (+7,600 jobs) to 750,000, education and health services (+3,300 jobs) to 523,200, construction (+3,100 jobs) to 210,700, miscellaneous (+1,200 jobs) to 195,600, manufacturing (+1,100 jobs) to 229,500, and information (+100 jobs) to 65,900. Mining was unchanged at 7,100 jobs over the month. The largest decrease occurred in government (-2,700 jobs) to 706,400. The decreases occurred in federal government (-3,600 jobs) and local government (-3,000 jobs), while state government employment rose from September (+3,900 jobs). Finance employment fell by 1,400 jobs to 210,300 over the month.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

September 2020 to
October 2020

October 2019 to
October 2020

October
2020

September
2020

October
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

3,898,800

3,864,800

4,063,600

34,000

0.9%

-164,800

-4.1%

Total Private Sector

3,192,400

3,155,700

3,330,100

36,700

1.2%

-137,700

-4.1%

Goods-Producing

447,300

443,100

451,400

4,200

0.9%

-4,100

-0.9%

   Mining

7,100

7,100

7,800

0

0.0%

-700

-9.0%

   Construction

210,700

207,600

203,800

3,100

1.5%

6,900

3.4%

   Manufacturing

229,500

228,400

239,800

1,100

0.5%

-10,300

-4.3%

Service-Providing

3,451,500

3,421,700

3,612,200

29,800

0.9%

-160,700

-4.4%

  Private Service-Providing

2,745,100

2,712,600

2,878,700

32,500

1.2%

-133,600

-4.6%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

653,900

645,500

657,400

8,400

1.3%

-3,500

-0.5%

   Information

65,900

65,800

68,900

100

0.2%

-3,000

-4.4%

   Finance

210,300

211,700

211,400

-1,400

-0.7%

-1,100

-0.5%

   Professional and Business Services

750,000

742,400

767,900

7,600

1.0%

-17,900

-2.3%

   Education and Health Services

523,200

519,900

558,000

3,300

0.6%

-34,800

-6.2%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

346,200

332,900

412,300

13,300

4.0%

-66,100

-16.0%

   Miscellaneous Services

195,600

194,400

202,800

1,200

0.6%

-7,200

-3.6%

  Government

706,400

709,100

733,500

-2,700

-0.4%

-27,100

-3.7%

   Federal Government

188,500

192,100

182,300

-3,600

-1.9%

6,200

3.4%

   State Government

152,200

148,300

162,200

3,900

2.6%

-10,000

-6.2%

   Local Government

365,700

368,700

389,000

-3,000

-0.8%

-23,300

-6.0%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From October 2019 to October 2020, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia lost 164,800 jobs, a decrease of 4.1%. In October, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 137,700 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 27,100 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, ten out of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment declines. The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 66,100 jobs (-16.0%). The next largest over-the-year job loss occurred in education and health services, down 34,800 jobs (-6.2%). Government experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 27,100 jobs (-3.7%). Within government, there were decreases in local government employment (-23,300 jobs) and state government employment (-10,000 jobs). Federal government experienced an increase in employment (+6,200 jobs). Professional and business services employment declined by 17,900 (-2.3%). Manufacturing lost 10,300 jobs (-4.3%) while miscellaneous shed 7,200 jobs (-3.6%). Other losses were in trade and transportation, down 3,500 jobs (-0.5%); information, down 3,000 jobs (-4.4%); finance, down 1,100 jobs (-0.5%); and mining down 700 jobs (-9.0%). The sole increase occurred in construction, up 6,900 jobs (+3.4%).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*

Area

Employment

September 2020 to
October 2020

October 2019 to
October 2020

October
2020

September
2020

October
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

3,898,800

3,864,800

4,063,600

34,000

0.9%

-164,800

-4.1%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

73,600

73,500

74,100

100

0.1%

-500

-0.7%

Charlottesville MSA

117,000

115,300

121,700

1,700

1.5%

-4,700

-3.9%

Harrisonburg MSA

65,600

65,800

69,800

-200

-0.3%

-4,200

-6.0%

Lynchburg MSA

99,000

97,400

106,300

1,600

1.6%

-7,300

-6.9%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,462,600

1,454,500

1,527,200

8,100

0.6%

-64,600

-4.2%

Richmond MSA

656,000

654,500

685,600

1,500

0.2%

-29,600

-4.3%

Roanoke MSA

155,000

154,400

161,600

600

0.4%

-6,600

-4.1%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

52,900

52,000

52,000

900

1.7%

900

1.7%

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

772,500

756,700

793,600

15,800

2.1%

-21,100

-2.7%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

61,400

60,600

66,200

800

1.3%

-4,800

-7.3%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In October, nine metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains while one experienced losses over-the-month. The largest absolute job increase occurred in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+15,800 jobs). The next largest absolute job gain occurred in Northern Virginia (+8,100 jobs), followed by Charlottesville (+1,700 jobs). Other increases include Lynchburg (+1,600 jobs), Richmond (+1,500 jobs), Staunton-Waynesboro (+900 jobs), Winchester (+800 jobs), Roanoke (+600 jobs), and Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (+100 jobs). The sole monthly employment decline occurred in Harrisonburg (-200 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 64,600 jobs (-4.2%). Richmond ranked second, with a loss of 29,600 jobs (-4.3%). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked third with a decline of 21,100 jobs (-2.7%). Other over-the-year job losses occurred in Lynchburg (-7,300 jobs), Roanoke (-6,600 jobs), Winchester (-4,800 jobs), Charlottesville (-4,700 jobs), Harrisonburg (-4,200 jobs), and Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (-500 jobs).  Staunton-Waynesboro added 900 jobs and was the only metropolitan area with a positive change over the year.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate decreased 1.0 percentage point in October to 5.1 percent, but was up 2.6 percentage points from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed increased by 106,325, household employment decreased by 273,784, and the labor force decreased by 167,459. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which fell by 1.1 percentage points in October to 6.6 percent.

Compared to last month, the October unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 153,800 manufacturing production workers increased by 0.7 hours to 40.2 hours. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production workers increased by $.26 to $20.70 in October and average weekly earnings rose $24.76 to $832.14.

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 October 2020 Employment Situation press release for details.

The statistical reference week for the household survey this month was the week of October 11-17, 2020.

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

The November statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Friday, December 18, 2020.

Files detailing October's unemployment numbers are available below: