Hampton Roads’ seasonally adjusted civilian employment increased by 1,200 in July of 2014 to 764,300, following an increase of 1,000 in June. This is the third consecutive month of positive growth. Unfortunately, the job recovery in Hampton Roads significantly lags that of the Nation and the Commonwealth, as jobs in this region has hovered at 96.4% of the prerecession peak, while Virginia has virtually recovered and the U.S. has now surpassed its peak by 639,000 jobs. The gap between peak and current has hovered at 28,000 jobs for the past 19 months.
July of 2007 serves as an important benchmark for the regional economy because it was the Hampton Roads’ employment peak prior to the Great Recession. Employment has experienced the greatest declines in construction (-14,000), retail trade (-4,900), wholesale trade (-4,600), and information (-4,500). Several other industries have also lost significant employment during the recession. Healthcare and social assistance (+13,700) alone gained a significant number of jobs since July of 2007.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 5.7% in July, but this decline was driven by almost 2,000 residents of Hampton Roads leaving the labor market. The number of persons indicating they were employed declined by 1,438 between June and July. The regional unemployment rate did improve relative to the U.S. and Virginia, but the number of unemployed in the U.S. increased as a result of an increasing labor force.