HRPDC economics staff tracks employment data and other economic indicators to better provide technical analysis and forecasting of the Hampton Roads economy.
On Wednesday January 4th 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released estimates for metropolitan area payroll employment and unemployment rates. Hampton Roads experienced a second straight month of increasing employment, but only added 2걄 jobs combined in October and November, versus the 52꼀 deficit in payrolls since peak regional employment in July 2007. Since then Hampton Roads has seen three other periods of increasing employment lasting two-months, but employment resumed its decline each time. The nation and, to a lesser extent, the state, have experienced stronger labor market growth than the region over the past year.
Year over year employment has grown most strongly in government supported industries, including federal government (+2) and education & health services (+1), but the administrative & support services industry has also added jobs (+1). Construction & natural resources payrolls have declined by 2 since November of 2010, and there have been declines in scientific & technical services (-1) and retail trade employment (-1). While leisure and hospitality employment saw the second largest year over year declines (-1꺜), it is not clear whether this is weakness in the industry, or whether this reflects weakness in off season tourism in an overall strong tourism industry.
The regional unemployment rate began to decline again after spiking up between May (6.74%) and October (7.32%) of this year. This decline was caused by a 1 person decrease in the labor force, coming mainly from the ranks of the unemployed (-1). The seasonally adjusted employment rate decreased to 7.21% in November. The national and state unemployment rates have been declining for a more significant duration allowing stronger long term trends to manifest. The unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.73%, though the decline in the unadjusted rate largely derived to the Hampton Roads seasonal decline in labor force between August and November (seasonal decline means that it is a repeated pattern that is unrelated to the movement of the labor market).