Virginia’s unemployment rate rises to 4.2 percent
Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly in December as more people entered the workforce during the month.
The December rate was 4.2 percent, up one-tenth of a percentage point from a revised rate of 4.1 percent for November, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
Ann Macheras, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Regional Economics division, said Tuesday that, overall, the jobs report was good. The rate uptick, she noted, was caused by nearly 9,000 people entering the workforce, an encouraging sign.
December also marked the fourth consecutive month of job growth, she pointed out. Nearly 7,000 jobs were added in December and 15,700 were added in November. The November figure was revised upward by 1,300 after last month’s initial report.
Macheras said that “little by little” Virginia is catching up with the faster pace of U.S. job growth. The number of jobs rose 1.5 percent last year, compared to the U.S. rate of 1.9 percent.
The industry sector seeing the largest job growth during December was professional and business services, up 6,800 jobs to a total of 701,800.
The biggest job losses occurred in manufacturing, down 1,800 jobs to 234,000, and trade and transportation, down 900 jobs to 655,300.
Macheras noted that the December figures for professional and business services revealed the significant growth the sector has seen recently, especially in Northern Virginia where many federal government contracting employees fall in this category.
In the past 12 months, employment in that sector has increased 3.7 percent, a possible sign that effects of federal spending cuts are tapering off, Macheras said.