Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: January 18, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Employment Commission: Ann Lang, Ann.Lang@vec.virginia.gov, (804) 786-3177

Governor Northam Announces Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Continues at 2.8%

Commonwealth has best seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among Southeast states, remains lowest rate in over 17 years

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in December at 2.8 percent. The December 2018 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Virginia was down 0.8 percentage point from a year ago and continued to be the lowest rate since the April 2001 rate of 2.8 percent. The labor force, which expanded for the third consecutive month, added 4,213 for a total of 4,359,242 and set a new record high. Household employment increased by 4,953, which was the twelfth consecutive monthly increase, and at 4,236,062, set a new record high. The number of unemployed continued to drop, declining by 740 to 123,180. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was up 0.2 percentage point in December to 3.9 percent.

“Virginia’s positive growth and low unemployment rate are encouraging, and our administration will remain focused on taking action to create good jobs and continue attracting high-growth industries to the Commonwealth by building upon the strong progress made over the course of the last year,” said Governor Northam. “The extended nature of the partial shutdown of the federal government poses a risk to that progress, and I urge Congressional leaders to end these impacts on our workers and our economy by coming to an agreement to open government immediately.”

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 seventh in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate along with Minnesota and Nebraska. 

“It was very encouraging to see the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate decrease in 2018, and we will work to continue this trend in 2019,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Thanks to Virginia’s robust, skilled workforce, the Commonwealth is a magnet for top employers, as evidenced by the economic development announcements we saw last year. We’re looking forward to aggressively recruiting and retaining companies that will create productive job opportunities for Virginians in the year ahead.”

“The Commonwealth’s many investments in our workforce are paying off in the form of historically low unemployment rates,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “We have made substantial progress in this first year of Governor Northam’s administration, but will not rest until there is a quality job available for every Virginian.”

Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment is 77,000 jobs higher when compared to December of 2017. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 57 consecutive months. Virginia’s over-the-year growth rate exceeded the national rate for the second consecutive month, with a Virginia December growth rate of 1.9 percent versus the national rate of 1.8 percent. 

In December, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 92,900 jobs, while employment in the public sector declined by 15,900 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 www.vec.virginia.gov.

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