Va. recovers 68K jobs in August
State still down 212K jobs from same time last year
In August, Virginia employers recovered a total of 68,000 jobs (a 1.8% increase from July), but the commonwealth is still 212,600 jobs shy of where it was last year, according to employment statistics released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
“Despite the sizable increase in August, total employment remains way below the pre-pandemic level,” says Joe Mengedoth, a regional economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. “The total number of jobs that were lost in March and April were almost 440,000, and over the last four months, a total of 188,000 jobs were added back. That’s a recovery of about 43% of the jobs that were lost. So this shows that there’s still quite a ways to go.” Virginia tied with New Jersey and New York for having the largest increase in jobs between July and August, however, according to DOL statistics.
In terms of unemployment, the jobless rate in Virginia fell to 6.1% in August, which Mengedoth says reflects both a decline in the number of unemployed workers and an increase in the labor force. The peak unemployment rate in Virginia during the pandemic was 11.2% in April — but before the pandemic it was at only 2.6%.
The largest job increase occurred in Northern Virginia, which added 30,100 jobs in August, with Richmond having the second-highest increase adding 8,700 jobs. Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News added 7,700 jobs, while Blacksburg/Christiansburg/Radford added 3,000, Harrisonburg added 1,500, Roanoke added 1,300, Charlottesville added 1,100, Lynchburg added 900 and Staunton/Waynesboro and Winchester added 200 jobs.
Nearly every major sector in Virginia added jobs in August, with the largest gain in the government sector, which added 40,800 jobs. More than 32,000 of those jobs are in local government. The next largest gain was in the sector including transportation, wholesale and retail, which added 10,500 jobs — most of which were in retail. Information services was the only unchanged industry at 66,300 total jobs. Mining declined by 100 jobs and manufacturing declined by 900 jobs in August.
While the hospitality and tourism industry saw an increase in jobs during the month by 6,300 jobs, it still remains the most depressed industry in the state, Mengedoth says, especially compared to its pre-pandemic level and its year-ago level. “Overall, compared to last year, [the hospitality] industry is down 20.3%,” Mengedoth says. The industry has lost about 83,000 jobs, according to data released by the Virginia Employment Commission.
One industry, however, is actually ahead of its year-ago level — construction.
“Construction was actually relatively unscathed by the pandemic,” says Mengedoth. “Employment did decline sharply in April … construction was considered an essential activity, so that industry really did bounce back quickly.” Construction is now running 2% ahead of where it was during the same time last year.