Hampton Roads seasonally adjusted employment grew by 300 jobs in Oct-14, following a 1,100 job increase in Sep-14. The October figure of 756,600 jobs represents an increase of 5,700 jobs from the previous year (0.76% growth), but the region still remains 25,000 jobs below the pre-recession peak. This stands in stark contrast to the U.S. which has continued to see steady growth, adding 2.7 million jobs over the past year (2.0% growth).
A significant issue for the Hampton Roads economy results from lagging construction employment, which remains at 12,100 positions below its Oct-07 levels. While U.S. construction has not approached the levels seen during the middle of the past decade, national construction employment both saw a slightly smaller decline and a stronger recovery than what the region experienced. If the Hampton Roads was experiencing the average national housing conditions, construction employment would jump by an additional 5,000 jobs in the region.
Other industries that continue to experience lingering effects from the recession are retail trade (-4,600 jobs), wholesale trade (-4,100), information (-4,100), and administrative & support industries (-4,100). These industries have a significant cyclical component, which means that they should recover as the Hampton Roads economy continues to repair itself. The only industry to have seen notable growth between Oct-07 and Oct-14 has been healthcare, which added 13,200 jobs over that period, an increase of 17.4%.
The regional unemployment rate declined from 5.7% in Sep-14 to 5.6% in Oct-14 (seasonally adjusted). Hampton Roads unemployment rate has remained relatively stable over the past 12 months, and changes in the size of the monthly labor force have impacted the unemployment rate as significantly as changes in employment. The labor force has grown by 10,900 positions since Oct-13, but has been declining since June.