Hampton Roads payroll employment has experienced strong growth in recent months, adding 9,800 positions in three months. Seasonally adjusted civilian payroll employment experienced an increase of 4,400 jobs from November to December of 2012. Despite this strong growth in the past few months, the region only added 11,400 for the year of 2012 because of declining employment in August and September of 2012. The average growth rate of 950 jobs per months in 2012 was far above the long term average of 513 jobs per month.
Since July of 2009, the region had been recovering much more slowly than the nation as a whole, despite losing a similar percentage of employment. The U.S. had recovered almost 50% of its payroll employment loss, while the region has only recovered 33% of its employment losses, and half of those gains were made in the previous three months. The region remains 32,700 payroll jobs below the peak employment of July 2007, and could return to pre-recession levels in November 2015, if employment continues to expand at the 2012 pace.
Some light has developed at the end of the tunnel for construction, which posted its first year over year employment gains since July 2006. While construction employment only expanded by 100 positions, construction employment has declined by 12,000 positions since December 2007, so renewed expansion represents major progress. As housing starts contributing to expansion (even modestly), it should allow for stronger economic expansion in the year ahead, as it had previously been a drag on economic recovery.