Hampton Roads seasonally adjusted employment increased by 1,300 jobs in May-14, but this followed a decline of 3,000 in Apr-14. Furthermore, Hampton Roads employment numbers have moved up and down from month to month, but the overall level has been relatively flat for the past 18 months. This parallels Virginia as a whole, which has seen no growth in employment over the past 16 months, even while the nation continues to experience steady growth since the end of the recession. Since May-2013, U.S. employment has grown consistently (1.75%), Virginia’s employment has barely grown (0.07%), and Hampton Roads has declined slightly (-0.22%).
The only Hampton Roads industries that have seen significant employment growth since May-13 are retail trade (+3,000), healthcare & social assistance (+2,100), and education services (+1,800). Federal government employment has declined year-over-year (-2,200), as well as scientific & technical services (-3,000) that are closely aligned with government contracting. Construction employment has also contracted over the past year (-2,000).
Regional seasonally adjusted unemployment increased from 5.54% to 5.73% as a result of increases in the labor force as well as a small decline in the number of people reporting that they are employed. The state saw a similar increase in its unemployment rate, going from 4.90% to 5.15%, while the nation’s unemployment rate has declined significantly over the past 12 months.
The similar experience in employment and unemployment for the Commonwealth and Hampton Roads suggests a similar source for the poor performance, related to the budget issues experienced by the federal government.