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Employment Inches Up while Unemployment Declines

Employment Inches Up while Unemployment Declines

Hampton Roads civilian non-farm employment increased by 1,100 in Nov-13, increasing to a seasonally adjusted 760,300. This is after a 5,500 decline in employment in Oct-13 and a 2,300 decline in Sep-13. Regional employment remains 2.6% below peak employment experienced in Jul-07, and at average annual employment growth of 6,200 jobs per year, it will be more than three years before this region returns to peak employment.

Hampton Roads Projected Return to Peak Employment
Year-over-year employment gains were greatest in Healthcare (+4,100), Construction (+2,500), and Administrative Industries (+2,400); the region added 10,400 jobs over the past year, almost 66% higher than an average year’s growth. Scientific & Technical Services (-2,200) and Federal employment (-1,400) experienced the greatest declines, and this is likely related to both the declines in defense budgets and the dislocation in government contracts created by the Federal shutdown in Oct-13.

Hampton Roads Employment Change Between November 2012 and November 2013

Unemployment declines for the wrong reasons

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Hampton Roads’ unemployment rate fell to 5.84% in November, down from 5.94% in October. Unfortunately, this decline was driven by a declining labor force, as over 6,000 have left the region’s labor force over the past two months. Hampton Roads unemployment rate is 1.19 percentage points below the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.02%, but above the Commonwealth’s rate of 5.40%.

US, Virginia and Hampton Roads MSA Unemployment Rate