For Release:
January 26, 2021
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Senior Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 486-2624

The Virginia unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in December while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 800

~ 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 slightly upward 0.1 of a percentage point in December to 4.9 percent, which is 2.2 percentage points above the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in December, the labor force increased by 1,017, essentially unchanged, to 4,288,955, as the number of unemployed residents increased by 4,459. The number of employed residents fell by 3,388 to 4,079,547. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged at 6.7 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 800 jobs in December to 3,910,000. November’s preliminary estimate was revised upward by 600, adding to that month’s job gains. In December, private sector employment increased by 7,000 jobs to 3,211,300, while public sector payrolls decreased by 6,200 jobs to 698,700.

Employment rose in five of eleven major industry sectors and declined in six. The largest job gain during December occurred in trade and transportation with an increase of 5,600 jobs to 658,900. The second largest increase occurred in manufacturing (+4,400 jobs) to 233,400. Other increases included construction (+1,900 jobs) to 214,400, information (+800 jobs) to 65,700, miscellaneous (+100 jobs) to 194,800. The largest decrease occurred in government (-6,200 jobs) to 698,700. The decreases occurred in state government (-3,200 jobs), local government (-2,800 jobs), and federal government employment December (-200 jobs). Leisure and hospitality employment fell by 3,500 jobs to 345,100 over the month.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

November 2020 to
December 2020

December 2019 to
December 2020

December
2020

November
2020

December
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

3,910,000

3,909,200

4,087,900

800

0.0%

-177,900

-4.4%

Total Private Sector

3,211,300

3,204,300

3,355,900

7,000

0.2%

-144,600

-4.3%

Goods-Producing

454,900

448,700

454,500

6,200

1.4%

400

0.1%

   Mining

7,100

7,200

7,800

-100

-1.4%

-700

-9.0%

   Construction

214,400

212,500

203,100

1,900

0.9%

11,300

5.6%

   Manufacturing

233,400

229,000

243,600

4,400

1.9%

-10,200

-4.2%

Service-Providing

3,455,100

3,460,500

3,633,400

-5,400

-0.2%

-178,300

-4.9%

  Private Service-Providing

2,756,400

2,755,600

2,901,400

800

0.0%

-145,000

-5.0%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

658,900

653,300

659,500

5,600

0.9%

-600

-0.1%

   Information

65,700

64,900

68,700

800

1.2%

-3,000

-4.4%

   Finance

210,300

210,800

214,600

-500

-0.2%

-4,300

-2.0%

   Professional and Business Services

757,300

757,800

775,100

-500

-0.1%

-17,800

-2.3%

   Education and Health Services

524,300

525,500

563,400

-1,200

-0.2%

-39,100

-6.9%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

345,100

348,600

417,400

-3,500

-1.0%

-72,300

-17.3%

   Miscellaneous Services

194,800

194,700

202,700

100

0.1%

-7,900

-3.9%

  Government

698,700

704,900

732,000

-6,200

-0.9%

-33,300

-4.5%

   Federal Government

186,600

186,800

182,200

-200

-0.1%

4,400

2.4%

   State Government

149,800

153,000

162,000

-3,200

-2.1%

-12,200

-7.5%

   Local Government

362,300

365,100

387,800

-2,800

-0.8%

-25,500

-6.6%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From December 2019 to December 2020, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia lost 177,900 jobs, a decrease of 4.4%. In December, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 144,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 33,300 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, ten out of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment decreases. The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 72,300 jobs (-17.3%). The next largest over-the-year job loss occurred in education and health services, down 39,100 jobs (-6.9%). Government experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 33,300 jobs (-4.5%). Within government, there were decreases in state government employment (-12,200 jobs) and local government employment (-25,500 jobs). Federal government experienced an increase in employment (+4,400 jobs). Professional and business services employment declined by 17,800 jobs (-2.3%). Manufacturing lost 10,200 jobs (-4.2%) while miscellaneous shed 7,900 jobs (-3.9%). Other losses were in finance, down 4,300 jobs (-2.0%); information, down 3,000 jobs (-4.4%); mining, down 700 jobs (-9.0%); and trade and transportation down 600 jobs (-0.1%). The sole increase occurred in construction, up 11,300 jobs (+5.6%).

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*

Area

Employment

November 2020 to
December 2020

December 2019 to
December 2020

December
2020

November
2020

December
2019

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

3,910,000

3,909,200

4,087,900

800

0.0%

-177,900

-4.4%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

73,500

75,300

78,200

-1,800

-2.4%

-4,700

-6.0%

Charlottesville MSA

120,400

119,000

122,200

1,400

1.2%

-1,800

-1.5%

Harrisonburg MSA

65,800

65,900

69,900

-100

-0.2%

-4,100

-5.9%

Lynchburg MSA

98,200

98,600

104,800

-400

-0.4%

-6,600

-6.3%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,463,700

1,468,300

1,530,400

-4,600

-0.3%

-66,700

-4.4%

Richmond MSA

662,100

660,600

693,400

1,500

0.2%

-31,300

-4.5%

Roanoke MSA

156,400

156,000

161,800

400

0.3%

-5,400

-3.3%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

52,900

53,000

52,100

-100

-0.2%

800

1.5%

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

771,100

770,700

798,000

400

0.1%

-26,900

-3.4%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

61,900

61,200

66,400

700

1.1%

-4,500

-6.8%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In December, five metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains while five experienced losses over-the-month. The largest absolute job increase occurred in Richmond (+1,500 jobs). The next largest absolute job gain occurred in Charlottesville (+1,400 jobs), followed by Winchester (+700 jobs). Other increases include Roanoke (+400 jobs), and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+400 jobs). Northern Virginia experienced the largest absolute job loss, down 4,600 jobs. Other over-the-month job losses occurred in Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (-1,800 jobs), Lynchburg (-400 jobs), Harrisonburg (-100 jobs), and Staunton-Waynesboro (-100).

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 66,700 jobs (-4.4%). Richmond ranked second, with a loss of 31,300 jobs (-4.5%). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked third with a decline of 26,900 jobs (-3.4%). Other over-the-year job losses occurred in Lynchburg (-6,600 jobs), Roanoke (-5,400 jobs), Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (-4,700 jobs), Winchester (-4,500 jobs), Harrisonburg (-4,100 jobs), and Charlottesville (-1,800 jobs). Staunton-Waynesboro added 800 jobs and was the only metropolitan area with a positive change over the year.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate increased 0.2 percentage point in December to 4.7 percent, and was up 2.3 percentage points from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed increased by 91,225, household employment decreased by 257,477, and the labor force decreased by 166,252. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which rose by 0.1 percentage points in December to 6.5 percent.

Compared to last month, the December unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 155,900 manufacturing production workers increased by 0.5 hours to 41 hours. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production workers increased by $.27 to $21.40 in December and average weekly earnings rose $21.63 to $877.40.

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

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

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the December local area unemployment rates on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. The data will be available on our website www.VirginiaWorks.com.

The January statewide unemployment rate and employment data for both the state and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released on Monday, March 15, 2021.

Files detailing December's unemployment numbers are available below: