Virginia jobless rate dips to 3.5 percent

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Virginia's unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, its lowest level in nearly a decade.

The Virginia Employment Commission said the commonwealth's seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point during the month.

February's number also was half a percentage point lower than the unemployment rate recorded 12 months before.

The U.S. jobless rate for February was 4.1 percent, unchanged from January.

Virginia's employment rate hasn't been this low since April 2008.

The VEC numbers are seasonally adjusted, meaning they take into account seasonal fluctuations in the labor force.

During February, the labor force expanded by nearly 4,000 workers after declining for the previous four months. The expansion pushed Virginia's total labor force to 4.3 million, a new record.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment also rose by 20,800 jobs during February to 3.99 million jobs, the second consecutive increase and a new record.

The VEC said employment increased in eight industry categories during the month, while remaining unchanged in two others and falling in one more.

The biggest gain occurred in the leisure and hospitality industry, which rose by 4,900 jobs to 405,400 positions.

Finance and mining remained unchanged in February at 205,100 and 8,200 jobs, respectively. Information jobs fell by 600 positions to 67,300.

Among Virginia's metro areas, Northern Virginia gained the most jobs from February 2017 to this February, 28,600, followed by the Richmond area, 4,500, and the Charlottesville area, 3,700.

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