Home Virginia unemployment rate remained unchanged in August at 2.5%, still below U.S. rate of 3.8%

Virginia unemployment rate remained unchanged in August at 2.5%, still below U.S. rate of 3.8%

Rebecca Barnabi
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The unemployment rate for the Commonwealth in August 2023 remained unchanged at 2.5 percent, 0.3 percentage points below the rate a year ago.

The labor force increased by 3,966 to 4,601,469 as the number of unemployed Virginians decreased by 3,382 to 112,959, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household data report.

Virginia’s unemployment rate is 1.3 percentage points below the nation’s rate, which increased 0.3 percent to 3.8 percent in August 2023.

The labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 66.7 percent in August in the Commonwealth, a measurement of the civilian population age 16 and older who are employed or actively looking for employment. Nonagricultural employment increased by 6,700 to 4,156,800. Private sector employment increased by 2,500 to 3,415,400 while government employment increased by 4,200 to 741,400.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment data is produced for eleven industry sectors. Five of the 11 industry sectors experienced job gains from July to August 2023, and six experienced a decline. The largest job gain was in Government, the second in Trade, Transportation and Utilities, the third in Education and Health Services.

Construction experienced the largest job loss with 1,400 positions.

According to VEC estimates, from August 2022 to August 2023, employment in Virginia increased by 65,700 to 4,156,800, private sector employment increased by 42,800 to 3,415,400, and government employment increased by 22,900 to 741,400 jobs.

Eight of the 11 industry sectors experienced job gains from August 2022 to August 2023 in Virginia, while declines were experienced in three sectors. The largest job gain occurred in Government, the second largest job gain in Education and Health Services, the third largest in Leisure and Hospitality.

The largest job loss was in Trade, Transportation and Utilities, the second largest in Financial Activities and the third largest in Mining and Logging.

Job gains from July to August 2023 were recorded in two of Virginia’s 10 metropolitan areas: Northern Virginia gained 4,500 jobs and Roanoke gained 300.

However, the largest job losses were in 2,900 in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, 1,000 in Richmond, 700 in Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, 400 in Lynchburg, 300 in Charlottesville, and 100 in Harrisonburg. Jobs in Staunton and Winchester remained unchanged.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ July 2023 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reported a small increase in layoffs and discharges in Virginia in July 2023. Job openings declined to 245,000, a decrease of 28 percent compared to July 2022, but more than 20 percent higher than pre-pandemic conditions.

The job openings rate in Virginia for July 2023 fell 0.9 percent to 5.9 percent. The national rate is 5.3 percent. The largest decreases for job openings rates were in Louisiana, Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia. The number of hires was down 10.7 percent from June 2018. The number of hires in the U.S. changed little at 5.8 million.

Five unemployed workers lived in Virginia per 10 job openings in July 2023, slightly higher than the 0.4 range that had been the rate since 2021, which was the lowest rate since the BLS began to collect data in January 2001.

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 number of unemployed workers per job opening stood at 3.2 during the height of pandemic employment impacts. Across the U.S., the ratio of unemployed people to job openings of 0.7 in July was up slightly from June 2023. The ratio of unemployed people per job opening has been below 1.0 since July 2021, and reached its highest nationwide of 6.5 in July of 2009, at the height of the Great Recession.

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.