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Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: January 24, 2020
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Employment Commission: Timothy Aylor, Timothy.Aylor@vec.virginia.gov, (804) 786-3976

Governor Northam Announces Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 2.6%

Labor force and number of employed residents continue to set new record highs

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s unemployment rate held steady in December, as both the labor force grew and employment levels increased.

The Commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.6 percent in December, which is 0.2 percentage point below the rate from a year ago. The labor force expanded for the eighteenth consecutive month by 14,058, or 0.3 percent, to set a new record high of 4,454,888, as the number of unemployed residents rose by 324. The number of employed residents increased by 13,734 to set a new high of 4,338,521. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged at 3.5 percent.

“I am pleased to see the Commonwealth’s consistently low unemployment rate hold steady for a third consecutive month,” said Governor Northam. “We will keep the momentum going in 2020 by engaging more Virginians in our labor force, helping businesses of all sizes grow and thrive, and connecting skills to jobs with enhanced workforce training opportunities for in-demand jobs.”

Virginia had the second lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states. Virginia had the third best rate among the states east of the Mississippi along with New Hampshire. Virginia ranked sixth in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate along with New Hampshire.

“Virginia had record-low unemployment and was named the top state for business in 2019,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We’re working to stay number one by attracting capital investment and quality jobs throughout the Commonwealth. Our robust and stable business climate has contributed to projects that will create nearly 60,000 new jobs since Governor Northam took office two years ago.”

Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 69 consecutive months and has accelerated slightly in recent months. In December, Virginia’s over-the-year growth of 1.1 percent was less than the 1.4 growth rate nationwide.

“This administration’s commitment to bringing quality, good-paying jobs to every corner of Virginia has resulted in one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, and we look forward to seeing this trend continue in 2020,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “Now more than ever, we must work with our public and private partners across the state to build strong career pathways and equip Virginia’s workforce with the 21st-century skills that employers in high-demand industries are seeking.”

In December, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 50,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector decreased by 5,400 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, seven of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, while four experienced employment losses.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at vec.virginia.gov.

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