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Virginia unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent in February

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Virginia’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in February, still double where we were a year ago, pre-COVID.

The unemployment rate in February 2020 was 2.5 percent.

“While our unemployment rate is moving in the right direction, the economic impacts of this pandemic continue to challenge workers and businesses in Virginia and across the country,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “Our administration remains committed to providing additional relief to those most in need, helping Virginians return to the workforce, and making targeted investments to build back key sectors of our economy.”

Total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 3,700 jobs and the labor force decreased by 15,995 to 4,238,057, as the number of unemployed residents decreased by 7,187. The number of employed residents fell by 8,808 to 4,018,030.

Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia had been positive for six consecutive years a year ago in February 2020, but dramatically changed course with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2021, Virginia’s over-the-year job loss of 4.8 percent was less than the 6.2 percent decline nationwide.

“With more shots in arms every day, more people are getting back to work, and we hope to see the unemployment rate continue to trend downward,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The Commonwealth is fortunate to have a competitive business climate and talented workforce, which has helped to keep businesses investing in Virginia and creating new jobs, even in a challenging economy.”

“Virginia’s February unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, a level last seen during the Great Recession recovery year of 2014, and that should be encouraging,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “Looking ahead to our recovery in 2021, the Virginia Employment Commission will continue working to help people gain employment or enter training programs that match their skills and career goals, focusing resources to align with the emerging opportunities we are seeing in post-pandemic job market trends.”

In February, the private sector recorded an over-the-year loss of 161,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 35,700 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, all 11 major industry divisions experienced employment decreases.

The largest over-the-year job loss occurred in leisure and hospitality, down 86,500 jobs, or 20.5 percent. The next largest over-the-year job loss occurred in government, down 35,700 jobs, or 4.8 percent. Local government employment fell by 29,000 jobs and state government employment was down 8,400 jobs, while the federal government added 1,700 jobs.

Education and health services experienced the third largest over-the-year job loss of 22,900 jobs, or 4.1 percent.

For more details, visit Virginia Employment Commission at

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