Unemployment rate drops to 4 percent

Published 9:09 am Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down 0.1 percentage point in January to 4 percent, after holding steady at 4.1 percent the previous six months.

“This drop comes after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued benchmarked data for 2016,” officials said in a press release from the governor’s office. “The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been in the 4 to 4.1 percent range — the lowest rates since the July 2008 rate of 4.1 percent — since September 2015. When Gov. McAuliffe took office in January 2014, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues below the national rate, which was down 0.1 percentage point to 4.7 percent. …”

“This report shows that Virginia is overcoming economic headwinds to create jobs and opportunity for people in every corner of the commonwealth,” said McAuliffe. “This decrease in the unemployment rate, coupled with record household employment and the 10th-consecutive labor force expansion, clearly demonstrates that the investments we are making in economic development, public education and workforce training are paying off. As we face unprecedented gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, it is more important than ever to continue our momentum building a new Virginia economy.”

According to the release, Virginia is tied with Indiana for the second-lowest rate among major U.S. states, behind Massachusetts. “Virginia has the second-lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states, behind Arkansas. Virginia was tied with Indiana for the fifth-best rate among the states east of the Mississippi. In addition, initial claims filed in 2016 for unemployment insurance benefits were the lowest Virginia has seen in more than 40 years.”

Virginia’s labor force expanded for the 10th consecutive month to 4,274,272, up over 6,000 people in January, and with the benchmark realignment, a record high for the commonwealth, officials said in the release.

“Household employment rose by over 8,700, the 25th-consecutive monthly increase and another record high. Virginia’s non-farm payroll employment increased by 14,200 jobs in January and is 56,300 jobs higher when compared to January of 2016.”

“Following a 43-year low in initial claims filed for unemployment insurance benefits, (the) announcement is a testament to Gov. McAuliffe’s work in partnership with our public and private sector partners to create quality, high-paying jobs for citizens across the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

Virginia’s over-the-year employment growth was 1.4 percent in January and has been positive for 34 consecutive months. Nationally, total non-farm employment grew 1.6 percent in January compared to a year ago, officials said.