For Release:
March 15, 2021
Contact:
Timothy Aylor
Senior Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 486-2624

The Virginia unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in January while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 14,100

~ 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 fell 0.3 of a percentage point in January to 5.3 percent, which is 2.8 percentage points above the rate from a year ago. According to household survey data in January, the labor force decreased by 1,452, essentially unchanged, to 4,253,627, as the number of unemployed residents decreased by 8,920. The number of employed residents rose by 7,468 to 4,026,343. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which decreased to 6.3 percent.

Virginia nonagricultural wage and salary employment, from the monthly establishment survey, rose by 14,100 jobs in January to 3,895,200. December’s preliminary estimate was revised downward by 28,900, eliminating that month’s small job gain. In January, private sector employment increased by 8,900 jobs to 3,191,200, while public sector payrolls increased by 5,200 jobs to 704,000.

Employment rose in seven of eleven major industry sectors and declined in four. The largest job gain during January occurred in government with an increase of 5,200 jobs to 704,000. The increase occurred in state government (+5,700 jobs), while federal government (-300 jobs) and local government (-200 jobs) shed jobs in January. The second largest increase occurred in trade and transportation (+4,700 jobs) to 654,400. Other increases included leisure and hospitality (+4,200 jobs) to 339,800, professional and business services (+1,400 jobs) to 767,500, education and health services (+900 jobs) to 529,400, information (+500 jobs) to 65,000, and construction (+400 jobs) to 207,500. The largest decrease occurred in manufacturing (-2,100 jobs) to 233,800. Other services employment fell by 600 jobs to 179,000 while financial activities lost 400 jobs to 208,000 over the month. Mining and logging lost 100 jobs, falling to 6,800 in January.

Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*
Seasonally Adjusted

Industry

Employment

December 2020 to
January 2021

January 2020 to
January 2021

January
2021

December
2020

January
2020

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Total Nonfarm

3,895,200

3,881,100

4,089,100

14,100

0.4%

-193,900

-4.7%

Total Private Sector

3,191,200

3,182,300

3,352,000

8,900

0.3%

-160,800

-4.8%

Goods-Producing

448,100

449,900

458,500

-1,800

-0.4%

-10,400

-2.3%

   Mining

6,800

6,900

7,700

-100

-1.4%

-900

-11.7%

   Construction

207,500

207,100

207,500

400

0.2%

0

0.0%

   Manufacturing

233,800

235,900

243,300

-2,100

-0.9%

-9,500

-3.9%

Service-Providing

3,447,100

3,431,200

3,630,600

15,900

0.5%

-183,500

-5.1%

  Private Service-Providing

2,743,100

2,732,400

2,893,500

10,700

0.4%

-150,400

-5.2%

   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

654,400

649,700

660,200

4,700

0.7%

-5,800

-0.9%

   Information

65,000

64,500

68,100

500

0.8%

-3,100

-4.6%

   Finance

208,000

208,400

214,500

-400

-0.2%

-6,500

-3.0%

   Professional and Business Services

767,500

766,100

776,100

1,400

0.2%

-8,600

-1.1%

   Education and Health Services

529,400

528,500

556,400

900

0.2%

-27,000

-4.9%

   Leisure and Hospitality Services

339,800

335,600

421,400

4,200

1.3%

-81,600

-19.4%

   Miscellaneous Services

179,000

179,600

196,800

-600

-0.3%

-17,800

-9.0%

  Government

704,000

698,800

737,100

5,200

0.7%

-33,100

-4.5%

   Federal Government

185,900

186,200

184,200

-300

-0.2%

1,700

0.9%

   State Government

157,200

151,500

163,400

5,700

3.8%

-6,200

-3.8%

   Local Government

360,900

361,100

389,500

-200

-0.1%

-28,600

-7.3%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

From January 2020 to January 2021, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia lost 193,900 jobs, a decrease of 4.7%. In January, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 160,800 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 33,100 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, ten out of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment decreases with one industry unchanged. The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 81,600 jobs (-19.4%). The next largest over-the-year job loss occurred in government, down 33,100 jobs (-4.5%). Within government, there were decreases in local government employment (-28,600 jobs) and state government employment (-6,200 jobs). Federal government experienced an increase in employment (+1,700 jobs). Education and health services experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 27,000 jobs (-4.9%). Other services employment declined by 17,800 jobs (-9.0%). Manufacturing lost 9,500 jobs (-3.9%) while professional and business services shed 8,600 jobs (-1.1%). Other losses were in finance, down 6,500 jobs (-3.0%); trade and transportation, down 5,800 jobs (-0.9%); information, down 3,100 jobs (-4.6%); and mining down 900 jobs (-11.7%). Construction was unchanged over-the-year at 207,500 jobs.

Total Nonfarm Employment in Virginia*

Area

Employment

December 2020 to
January 2021

January 2020 to
January 2021

January
2021

December
2020

January
2020

Change

% Change

Change

% Change

Virginia

3,895,200

3,881,100

4,089,100

14,100

0.4%

-193,900

-4.7%

Blacksburg-Christiansburg-
Radford MSA

75,900

73,400

78,500

2,500

3.4%

-2,600

-3.3%

Charlottesville MSA

113,500

112,700

123,600

800

0.7%

-10,100

-8.2%

Harrisonburg MSA

65,100

65,800

70,200

-700

-1.1%

-5,100

-7.3%

Lynchburg MSA

99,900

99,900

105,900

0

0.0%

-6,000

-5.7%

Northern Virginia MSA

1,455,700

1,452,700

1,534,500

3,000

0.2%

-78,800

-5.1%

Richmond MSA

651,900

651,400

691,800

500

0.1%

-39,900

-5.8%

Roanoke MSA

155,500

155,600

162,700

-100

-0.1%

-7,200

-4.4%

Staunton-Waynesboro MSA

51,100

50,900

51,800

200

0.4%

-700

-1.4%

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

765,900

763,400

804,500

2,500

0.3%

-38,600

-4.8%

Winchester,
Virginia/West Virginia MSA

65,800

66,000

66,700

-200

-0.3%

-900

-1.3%

*Current month's estimates are preliminary.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for ten metropolitan areas. In January, six metropolitan areas experienced over-the-month job gains, one was unchanged, and three experienced losses over-the-month. The largest absolute job increase occurred in Northern Virginia   (+3,000 jobs). The next largest absolute job gains occurred in Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford       (+2,500 jobs) and Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (+2,500 jobs). Other increases include Charlottesville (+800 jobs), Richmond (+500 jobs), and Staunton-Waynesboro (+200). Harrisonburg experienced the largest absolute job loss, down 700 jobs. Other over-the-month job losses occurred in Winchester (-200 jobs) and Roanoke (-100 jobs). Lynchburg was unchanged over-the-month.

Over-the-year, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment decreased in all ten metropolitan areas. The Northern Virginia metropolitan area experienced the largest absolute job loss, down 78,800 jobs (-5.1%). Richmond ranked second, with a loss of 39,900 jobs (-5.8%). Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News ranked third with a decline of 38,600 jobs (-4.8%). Other over-the-year job losses occurred in Charlottesville (-10,100 jobs), Roanoke (-7,200 jobs), Lynchburg (-6,000 jobs), Harrisonburg (-5,100 jobs), Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford (-2,600 jobs), Winchester (-900 jobs) and Staunton-Waynesboro (-700 jobs).

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data

Virginia’s unadjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in January at 5.7 percent, but was up 2.9 percentage points from a year ago. Compared to a year ago, the number of unemployed increased by 116,903, household employment decreased by 336,739, and the labor force decreased by 219,836. Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national unadjusted rate, which rose by 0.3 percentage points in January to 6.8 percent.

Compared to last month, the January unadjusted workweek for Virginia’s 154,200 manufacturing production workers was unchanged at 40.8 hours. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production workers decreased by $.12 to $21.05 in January and average weekly earnings fell $4.90 to $858.84.

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 January, refer to the BLS January 2021 Employment Situation press release for details.

The statistical reference week for the household survey this month was the week of January 10-16, 2021.

The Virginia Employment Commission plans to release the January local area unemployment rates on Friday, March 19, 2021. 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 26, 2021.

Files detailing January's unemployment numbers are available below: