Home Virginia employment continues to reveal good news with unemployment rate of 2.9%

Virginia employment continues to reveal good news with unemployment rate of 2.9%

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Virginia’s unemployment rate in May decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 2.9 percent, 0.4 percentage points above the rate from 2022.

The Commonwealth’s unemployment rate is 0.8 percentage points below the national rate, which increased by 0.3 percentage points to 3.7 percent. The labor force participation rate in Virginia increased by 0.3 percentage points to 66.5 percent in May.

Since 2021, the Commonwealth has boasted a job seekers ratio of one unemployed worker per two jobs. This is the lowest rate for the Commonwealth since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data in 2001. The job seekers ratio peaked in February 2010 during the Great Recession at 4.4 unemployed per job opening. In April 2020, the number of unemployed workers per job opening stood at 3.3, at the height of employment impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While in April 2023, the job seekers ratio was again one unemployed worker per two job openings, the United States’s was 0.6, unchanged from March 2023. The ratio of unemployed people per job opening in the nation has been below 1.0 since July 2021. The number of unemployed people per job opening nationwide reached its highest level of 6.5 in July of 2009, at the height of the Great Recession.

The ability to meet staffing requirements in the U.S. was improved in April 2023 compared to April 2022, according to BLS Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, because steadily hiring has exceeded quitting. Also, job openings have been slow, down 14 percent from a year ago. In Virginia, job openings feel from 340,000 in March 2023 to 307,000. BLS said that if “frenetic job switching” continues to decrease in trend, job openings might reflect a growing economy’s additional demand for labor.

Employment data is collected for eleven industry sectors, and across the U.S. six experienced gains in May 2023 while five experienced declines in job growth. In Virginia, however, 10 industries experienced growth and one declined. The largest job gain was in Education and Health Services, and the largest job loss in Mining and Logging.

The Virginia Employment Commission estimates that employment in the Commonwealth increased by 91,500 to 4,146,900 from May 2022 to May 2023. Private sector employment increased by 76,300 to 3,418,000 and employment in the public sector increased by 15,200 to 728,900 jobs.

The number of initial weekly claims in Virginia decreased by 448 to 2,038 for the week ending June 24, 2023, which are typical pre-COVID-19 volumes seen in 2019.

Continued weeks claimed was 13,381 individuals, a 33.6 percent from 10,016 continued claims in the same week in 2022.

The nation’s initial claims were 239,000 for the week ending June 24, 2023, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week. Most states reported decreases in this week, with the largest decrease in California. Virginia had the 16th largest decrease.

Most recent JOLTS data reveals that Virginians moderated their rapid pace of switching jobs in the last two years. An estimated 99,000 workers quit jobs from Virginia employers in April 2023. The number of quits decreased by 20,000 from March’s revised figure of 119,000, a 12 percent decline from April 2022 and a 27 percent decline from the record-breaking high set in December 2021.

Quits, voluntary separations initiated by employees, can be a leading indicator of wage trends, and elevated levels have been seen for the last two years. The quits rate across the U.S. changed little at 2.4 percent.

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.