Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: June 15, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, | Virginia Employment Commission: Ann Lang, (804) 786-3177,

Governor Northam Announces Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.2%

Lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among Southeast states; Labor force expansion reaches another record high

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down 0.1 percentage point in May to 3.2 percent and was down 0.6 percentage point from a year ago. May’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2 percent is the lowest rate since the October 2007 rate of 3.2 percent. In May, the labor force expanded by 7,656, which was the fourth consecutive monthly increase, and at 4,338,619, set a new record high. Household employment increased by 11,549, which was the fifth consecutive monthly increase, and at 4,198,554, also set a new record high. The number of unemployed continued to drop, declining by 3,893 to 140,065. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was down 0.1 percentage point in May to 3.8 percent.

“The Commonwealth’s low unemployment rate and record labor force expansion are positive reflections of our work to build an economy that works for every Virginian, no matter who they are or where they live,” said Governor Northam. “Our adoption of a budget that invests in healthcare, education, and workforce development will buoy these efforts and further increase economic opportunities across the state.”

Virginia has the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states. Virginia, along with Indiana, has the fifth best rate among the states east of the Mississippi. Virginia is ranked thirteenth in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate along with Indiana.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the work we have been doing to diversify our economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We must continue to do everything in our power to attract new businesses to Virginia and make sure every region of the Commonwealth sees positive growth.”

“Virginia’s low unemployment rate is an exciting sign of progress for both our businesses and residents,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “Our talented labor force is hard at work supporting Virginia's dynamic economy by delivering goods, services, and opportunities to customers across the Commonwealth and beyond.”

Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment is 53,000 jobs higher when compared to May of 2017. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 50 consecutive months, and over the last several months, growth has continued to strengthen. Nationally, total nonfarm employment was up 1.6 percent from a year ago.   

In May, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 54,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector declined by 1,600 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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