Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: May 21, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Employment Commission: Timothy Aylor,

Governor Northam Announces Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 4.7 Percent in April

Payroll employment increased by 2,400 jobs

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s unemployment rate fell 0.4-percentage point to 4.7 percent in April. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which rose to 6.1 percent.

“Virginia’s unemployment rate has decreased every month since last June and is edging closer to pre-pandemic record lows,” said Governor Northam. “More people are working, businesses are hiring, and our economy is getting even stronger as more and more Virginians receive their COVID-19 vaccines. Our Administration remains focused on ensuring there is opportunity for every Virginia resident, in every part of our Commonwealth so we can all move forward.”

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2,400 jobs in April. The labor force decreased by 12,422 to 4,225,614, and the number of unemployed residents decreased by 17,097 to 197,338. The number of employed residents rose by 4,675 to 4,028,276. Virginia’s over-the-year job gain of 7.7 percent was less than the 10.9 percent increase nationwide.

“It’s great to see more Virginians getting back to work, and industries that were hard hit by COVID-19, like tourism and hospitality, making a comeback,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Governor Northam has made wise, measured decisions throughout the pandemic, which is a major reason why Virginia’s economy is faring better than other states. We know we still have work to do, but this decrease in the unemployment rate is welcome news.” 

“The Commonwealth enjoyed a strong and vibrant economy prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the decreasing unemployment rate demonstrates that we are on a solid path to recovery,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “With over 63 percent of adults in Virginia fully vaccinated, workers are growing more confident to go back to school or rejoin the workforce. Our focus moving forward will be to ensure that they have the skills, training, and support they need to thrive in the post-pandemic economy.”

In April, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 289,800 jobs, while employment in the public sector lost 11,100 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of 11 major industry divisions experienced employment increases. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 114,000 jobs, or 52 percent. The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in trade and transportation, up 67,300 jobs, or 11 percent. Education and health services experienced the third largest over-the-year job gain of 38,200 jobs, or seven percent. Government experienced the largest decrease, falling by 11,100 jobs. Local government employment fell by 10,100 jobs and state government employment was down 3,400 jobs, while the federal government added 2,400 jobs.

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

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