Home Virginia employers retain full staff post-pandemic, yet unemployment rates slightly up

Virginia employers retain full staff post-pandemic, yet unemployment rates slightly up

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Virginia’s unemployment rate is down to 2.70 percent from 2.90 percent a year ago in May.

However, it dipped to 2.50 in April 2023.

The national unemployment rate is the same 3.40 percent that it was a year ago, but also up from 3.10 a month before the latest numbers are available.

Apparently the trend is also local as Charlottesville’s rate was 2.70 in May 2022, 2.50 in May 2023 and dipped down to 2.20 in April 2023.

Harrisonburg’s 3.00 rate decreased to 2.90 a year later, up from 2.30 in April 2023.

In Staunton and Waynesboro, the unemployment rate reached 2.60 percent in May of this year, down from 2.80 a year ago, yet up from 2.30 in April 2023.

Augusta County’s 2.50 percent in May 2023 is down from 2.70 a year ago and up from 2.20 in April 2023.

From 3.00 percent in May 2022, Rockbridge County’s unemployment rate was down to 2.60 percent in May 2023, yet, again, up from 2.30 percent the month before.

Rockingham County has a rate of 2.50 percent, down from 2.70 percent a year ago, but up from 2.10 in April 2023.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) survey for May 2023, job quitting remained above pre-pandemic levels. In Virginia, 42,000 layoffs or discharges were reported, a decrease for the Commonwealth.

Job openings in Virginia in May 2023 fell from 315,000 to 307,000. Across the United States, the number of job openings also fell by nearly 500,000. The largest decreases were in health care and social assistance, finance and insurance, and other services. Florida experienced the largest decrease in job openings.

Four unemployed workers per 10 job openings was the ratio in May 2023 in the Commonwealth, which has been the case since 2021 for the most part. Virginia’s unemployed per job opening ratio peaked at 4.4 unemployed per job opening in February 2010 during the Great Recession. In April 2020, the ratio was 3.2 per job opening at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the U.S., the ratio was 0.6 in May 2023 of unemployed per job opening, which is a little change from the previous month. The ratio has been below 1.0 since July 2021. The national ratio reached its highest at 6.5 in July 2009 at the height of the Great Recession.

Job openings slowed in the Commonwealth in April and May 2023, according to JOLTS, after record highs in the last 12 months. Yet, continued high rates of job quitting and movement from job to job was recorded, and hires as a percentage of separations decreased in recent months to one hire for one job separation. Indications point to employers gradually continuing to make progress in their ability to regain full staff two years after a period of an extremely tight labor market.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.