The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released state payroll employment and unemployment estimates on August 19, 2011. This was another weak report, with seasonally adjusted payrolls declining by 1 jobs in July to 3. This was the third straight month of payroll employment declines, though the rate of decline was negligible. Hampton Roads payroll employment also declined in April and May, with regional employment numbers for July to be released August 31st. The small decline in payroll employment contrasts with the 47 job decline reported in several papers, but that number does not account for seasonal factors and the unadjusted employment of 3 is slightly above the level in July 2010.
The state unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.1% in July (seasonally adjusted). While this marks the first increase in the unemployment rate since January of last year, Virginia’s unemployment rate remains 3% below the national unemployment rate. The labor force has also remained approximately the same size throughout the past year and a half, and this simplifies the analysis as changes in the labor force participation rate tend to obscure underlying economic trends in the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate was as low as 2.85% in March of 2007, and peaked at 7.22% in Virginia in January 2010. The region’s unemployment rate had closely tracked the state’s rate throughout much of the past decade, but the state and regional rate have diverged since the end of the recession, indicating that the state has experienced a much stronger recovery.