Hampton Roads Planning District Commission economists use the monthly regional labor force and payroll information data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistic to assess the current economic condition in the region, state and nation. The October metropolitan employment and unemployment data came out on Dec 6th, and this data again shows the weakness of the regional economy and labor market.
Hampton Roads payrolls increased by 600 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis between September and October, but this also includes a downward revision of 1 jobs in the September payrolls estimate. The October employment level of 730 jobs is 6 jobs below October 2010, and is 54 jobs below the pre-recession peak on a seasonally adjusted basis. Employment grew year over year in administrative & support services (+2), education & health services (+1), and in federal employment (+1). The retail trade (-3) and leisure & hospitality (-2) industries have experienced significant declines in this weak economic environment, while construction continues to suffer from the state of the housing market (natural resources and construction employment -1).
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly in October to 7.33%, representing an increase of 0.58 percentage points from the low of 6.74% in May 2011. Strong labor force growth paired with weak employment drove the increase in the region’s unemployment rate. While Hampton Roads’ unemployment rate remains significantly below the nation’s (1.31 percentage points), since June 2011 the nation’s unemployment rate has declined as a result of strong employment gains (as calculated by the household survey) and weak labor force growth.