The Bureau Economic Analysis (BEA) provides arguably the best available estimates for state and regional employment and income in the United States. The most recent release of BEA data reveals that Hampton Roads experienced growth in both employment and income, but regional growth rates did not keep pace with that of the nation, nor did they result in a full recovery from the Great Recession.
According to the BEA, regional employment grew to 1,009,898 in 2014, increasing by 3,836 jobs (0.4%) from 2013. This was the fourth straight year of improvement; however regional employment remains 35,000 jobs below peak employment set in 2007. Employment in Virginia grew twice as quickly (0.8%) and national employment grew at 5 times the regional rate (1.9%), and is now 3.3% above where it was pre-recession.
Income also grew in the region, with total personal income in the region expanding to $77.7B (1.8%), and per capita incomes growing to $45,276 (1.2%). At the same time, incomes grew one percentage point higher in the U.S. (2.2%), and continued a trend where regional incomes have been outpaced by national incomes.
Total personal incomes derived from federal employment remained essentially flat (inflation-adjusted growth of 0.3%), while total personal incomes in the region continue to increase. Direct federal employment now provides a smaller share of regional income (16.7%) than it did in 2001 (17.2%)
Gross Regional Product
Gross product serves as another measure of economic well-being, measuring the added value of regional goods and services. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that the gross regional product in Hampton Roads was $83.4B in 2014, declining by 0.1% when adjusted for inflation. The decline in gross product runs contrary to the growth in regional incomes and employment, suggesting other factors are holding back Hampton Roads’ economy
2014 was a year of very weak growth for the region. It would take 10 years of employment growth at 2014 levels for the region to return to 2007 employment levels. Regional income growth proved stronger, but the region lagged both the nation and the state. The Economics staff continues to review the economic data from 2015, which featured slightly stronger growth, as it prepares its economic forecast for 2016.