Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces Virginia’s Highest Labor Force Participation Rate Since June 2014

May 19, 2023

RICHMOND, VA - Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced the labor force participation rate rose 0.3 of a percentage point to 66.2 percent in April, the highest rate since June 2014. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (“LAUS”, or “the household survey”), the labor force in Virginia increased this month by 21,687 individuals to 4,550,748. In addition, over 25,000 more Virginians were employed in April than March, with further declines in the unemployment rate to 3.1 percent.

“On day one we declared that ‘Virginia is open for business’ and April’s strong employment numbers—the highest labor force participation rate in nearly a decade—are just the latest example that Virginia is on the move,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “During this commencement season, as many graduate from high school and college, the high volume of job openings will be a huge help to young Virginians as they join the workforce and celebrate these momentous achievements.”

With the increase of Virginians moving back into the workforce, Virginia’s unemployment rate of 3.1 percent was a slight decrease from March and remained below the national rate, which decreased to 3.4 percent in April.

According to LAUS, the number of employed residents increased by 25,127 to 4,410,619 in April. Throughout the month, the number of unemployed residents decreased by 3,440 to 140,129.

“Virginia’s low unemployment rate and strong employment growth reflect the vitality and resilience of our workforce and economy," said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “We continue to focus on removing barriers to employment and equip workers with in-demand skills. We are committed to addressing these challenges by building and strengthening Virginia’s workforce for the jobs available today and for the future."

“The Virginia labor market continues to show strength during the first part of 2023,” said Secretary Caren Merrick. “Despite large gains in labor force participation, filling open positions remains a challenge for businesses in the Commonwealth and we remain laserfocused on getting more Virginians into the workforce. ”

BLS publishes an additional employment figure from its Current Employment Statistics Survey (“CES” or “establishment survey”). Virginia CES employment rose by 1,400 jobs in April to 4,138,100 and has increased by 87,000 since April 2022.

The CES survey uses payroll records of establishment employers and is designed to provide a count of jobs under which the employer pays unemployment insurance. The LAUS survey is based on household interviews conducted each month for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides comprehensive data on the labor force, including those who are employed and unemployed. Establishments are classified in an industry on the basis of their principal product or activity in accordance with the most recent North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Manual.

The household survey only distinguishes between whether a person is employed or unemployed, whereas CES counts each employee that is on an employer’s payroll. CES excludes business owners, self-employed persons, unpaid volunteers and private household workers, and those on unpaid leave or not working because of a labor dispute.

Employment rose in seven of eleven major industry sectors, was unchanged in mining, and declined in three. The largest job gain during April occurred in leisure and hospitality services with an increase of 2,700 jobs to 411,100. The second largest increase occurred in finance (+2,300 jobs) to 216,200. Manufacturing was third with a gain of 1,100 jobs, rising to 246,700. The largest job loss during April occurred in professional and business services (-4,600 jobs) to 810,200, followed by construction (-1,300 jobs) to 212,100, and trade, transportation, and utilities (-500 jobs) to 665,000.

Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment increases, while mining was unchanged, and trade, transportation and utilities experienced a loss. The largest absolute over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality services, up 24,400 jobs (+6.3%). The second largest over-the-year job gain occurred in education and health services, up 23,500 jobs (+4.3%). The third largest over-the-year job gain occurred in government, up 15,800 jobs (+2.2%). Trade, transportation, and utilities experienced the only job loss (-100 jobs). For more details, visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at

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View the Governor's News Release