Virginia Labor Markets Improved in November with Job Growth and Lower Unemployment
Virginia employers added 9,300 jobs in November, after adjusting for seasonal factors, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This follows an upward revision of 5,400 additional jobs in October. The private sector contributed most of the job increase (8,900 jobs), but the government sector also registered a small gain. During the past 12 months, the state generated a net gain of 46,900 jobs for a 1.3 percent increase through November, which brought it nearly on par with the national growth rate of 1.4 percent for the same period. In a separate survey of households, the unemployment rate in Virginia declined to 5.6 percent in November, for its second consecutive monthly decline and its lowest rate since May. Once again, only 10 other states registered a lower unemployment rate than Virginia.
Most industry sectors added jobs in November. Trade, transportation, and utilities provided the largest gain in jobs (5,200 jobs), followed by professional and business services (2,300 jobs) and other services (1,100 jobs). Smaller gains occurred in manufacturing, government, information, education and health services, and several other sectors. Offsetting some of these gains, the leisure and hospitality sector lost 800 jobs in November, while mining and construction suffered minor losses. Over the past 12 months, however, the construction sector lost more jobs (3,500) than any other major industry sector, while the mining and logging sector experienced the greatest percentage decline with a fall of 9.1 percent. The greatest gains over the year were registered in education and health services, professional and business services, and financial activities. Both financial activities and education and health services had growth rates of four percent or better for the year. In contrast, the 1.9 percent growth in professional and business services lagged the national growth rate in this sector.
Northern Virginia continued to outpace other metropolitan areas in the state with the greatest gain in jobs for November (9,800 jobs), followed by Virginia Beach and Richmond. However, Winchester posted the greatest percentage increase for the month. Four metropolitan areas shed jobs in November — Roanoke, Danville, Lynchburg, and Blacksburg. With stronger job growth concentrated in the major metro areas, the implication is that the smaller metros and rural areas of the state lost 5,800 jobs during November. Over the past 12 months, Northern Virginia accounted for 69 percent of the net job gain in Virginia, but Blacksburg posted the largest percentage gain of 4.8 percent. The Roanoke metro area suffered the greatest loss in the number of jobs while Winchester suffered the largest percentage decline over the past year.
So far in 2012, Virginia employers generated an average monthly gain of 3,700 jobs, which is down slightly from the average gain in 2011. It is encouraging that Virginia's job growth has remained moderate, if not robust, in the face of fiscal spending changes that are undoubtedly generating uncertainty and hampering job growth for many businesses. Reflecting the decent pace of job growth, the household survey reported an increase in the number of employed and a decline in the number of unemployed, while the labor force grew for the third consecutive month. Virginia's November labor market numbers suggest that job seekers will continue to find opportunities for employment as employers maintain job growth at a modest pace.
Ann Battle Macheras