Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: December 21, 2018
Contacts: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Employment Commission: Ann Lang,, (804) 786-3177

Governor Northam Announces Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 2.8%

Unemployment rate at 17-year-low; Virginia has lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among Southeast states

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point in November to 2.8 percent, and was down 0.8 percentage point from a year ago. November’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 2.8 percent is the lowest rate since the April 2001 rate of 2.8 percent. The labor force, which expanded for the second consecutive month, added 1,534 jobs for a total of 4,354,945. Household employment increased by 2,323, which was the eleventh consecutive monthly increase, and set a new record high at 4,230,978. The number of unemployed continued to drop, declining by 789 to 123,967. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged at 3.7 percent.

“Over the past year, we’ve made great strides in putting more Virginians to work in high-quality, wage-sustaining jobs, attracting new businesses and capital investment, and improving the Commonwealth’s financial outlook,” said Governor Northam. “While this news is a positive indicator that Virginia’s economy is strong, we must keep our focus on driving opportunity to all corners of this Commonwealth so everyone can participate in our shared success. My administration is hard at work to continue fueling this economic growth by further enhancing our business climate and making strategic investments in key areas like education, workforce training, health care, affordable housing, and broadband infrastructure.”

Virginia has the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states. Virginia has the third best rate among the states east of the Mississippi. Virginia is ranked sixth in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate along with Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota. 

“We are pleased to see that’s Virginia’s unemployment rate is the lowest rate in over 17 years, and we will work to keep it low in 2019,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Creating wage-sustaining jobs of the 21st century will remain a key focus of this administration, and we will continue working diligently to ensure that all Virginians have the opportunity to succeed in our economy.”

“Our low unemployment rate shows that Virginia’s commitment to workforce development is paying off,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “By rethinking and supplementing our approach to service delivery, we are producing highly skilled workers and matching them with growing employers in high-demand industries. Considerable progress has been made, but we will not be satisfied until every Virginian in every part of the Commonwealth has a clear career pathway to a sustainable, well-paying job.”

Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment is 75,100 jobs higher when compared to November of 2017. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 56 consecutive months and has continued to strengthen over the last several months. For September and October, Virginia’s over-the-year growth was the same as the national rate, and in November, Virginia’s over-the-year growth rate of 1.9 percent exceeded the national rate of 1.7 percent. In previous months, Virginia’s over-the-year growth had not been as strong as the national rate.   

In November, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 91,200 jobs, while employment in the public sector declined by 16,100 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, while the other two experienced employment losses.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at

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