Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: March 22, 2019
Contacts: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Employment Commission: Ann Lang,, (804) 786-3177

Governor Northam Announces Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate at 2.9%

Over-the-year employment growth has been positive for 59 consecutive months and labor force expansion reached a new record high, expanding for eighth consecutive month

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was up a slight 0.1 percentage point in February to 2.9 percent, but was 0.3 percentage point below last February. This is the first increase in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate since the Governor took office in January 2018.

The labor force, which expanded for the eighth consecutive month, added 8,954 for a total of 4,354,967, a new record high. Household employment increased by 6,886 and at 4,230,408, also set a new record high. The number of unemployed increased by 2,068 to 124,559, the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was down 0.2 percentage point in February to 3.8 percent.

“Virginia’s continued labor force expansion and household employment increases are key indicators that our economy remains strong and our efforts to diversify the Commonwealth’s economic base is leading to increased confidence both for job seekers and employers,” said Governor Northam. “While this sustained growth is encouraging, it is clear that we still have work to do and this report highlights the importance of making strategic investments that optimize our workforce system and attract well-paying, high-quality jobs to Virginia.”

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 along with Wisconsin. Virginia is ranked seventh in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate along with Idaho, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

“Creating quality jobs across every corner of Virginia continues to be a top focus of this administration,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We are encouraged by the record high labor force and household employment, and will remain vigilant when it comes to working with our existing businesses as well as companies outside the Commonwealth that are looking to expand.”

“The Commonwealth’s employment statistics show Virginians are optimistic about their future and are finding success in their job search,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “While significant growth in our labor force has resulted in a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, we’re pleased to see a record number of Virginian families finding opportunities to work.”

Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment is 31,500 jobs higher when compared to February of 2018. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 59 consecutive months. Nationally, over-the-year growth also slowed in February to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent in January.

In February, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 28,400 jobs, while employment in the public sector increased by 3,100 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, eight of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, two experienced employment losses, and mining employment remained unchanged.

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

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