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Some good news in employment numbers: Virginia jobless rate down in October

virginia economy
(© vepar5 –

Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined nine-tenths of a percentage point in October to 5.3 percent as the number of employed residents increased by 24,865 to 4,049,466.

That total is still down 6.8 percent from the 4,345,451 who were employed in February, ahead of the stay-at-home order instituted by Gov. Ralph Northam in mid-March to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The February unemployment rate had bottomed out at 2.6 percent at what turned out to be the tail end of a 20-month growth period in the state’s labor force.

By April, unemployment was at 10.6 percent as more than 500,000 Virginians in the first six weeks of the stay-at-home order.

The employment situation has been improving since Northam began relaxing the public-health restrictions in early May.

Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which is at 6.9 percent.

Inside the numbers

Employment rose in eight of 11 major industry sectors in Virginia in October, 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
  • 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.