Hampton Roads non-farm civilian (payroll) employment declined for the second month in a row, with the April-2013 estimate falling by 400 jobs to 754,900 jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis). While this was an improvement from the 2,800 job decline experienced in March-2013, the regional job market remains extremely weak. Hampton Roads payroll employment remains 3.3% (or 25,700 positions) below the prerecession peak; the nation as a whole is only down 1.9% from its peak. National payroll employment has grown for the past 31 months, and Virginia employment grew by 12,000 in April-2013 (after declining in March-2013).
Year-over-year industry employment grew strongly across several sectors, but because last spring saw four months of declining employment, this growth is slightly misleading. Employment only declined in six industries between April-2012 and April-2013: Retail Trade (-600), Scientific/Technical Services (-400), Wholesale Trade (-300), Information (-300), and Transportation/Utilities (-200).
Unfortunately, the seasonal adjustment process used for total regional payroll employment should only be cautiously used with the industry numbers. Another way to examine the change in industry employment derives from observing the movement in year-over-year employment through time. The graphic below compares the year-over-year changes in employment for both the Construction and the Federal Civilian Employment Industries. Construction employment started improving rapidly in November-2011, going from -6.5% employment growth to +11.7% employment growth this April on a year-over-year basis. Federal Civilian employment, which has a similar number of jobs, but higher pay, has been slowly weakening since May-2010, going from a high of 6.4% year over year growth to a decline of 0.6% year over year.
Unemployment in Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads unemployment rate fell on a seasonally adjusted basis to 5.8%, driven by a small decrease in labor force and a small increase in the number who report they are employed. This is 1.7% below the national rate, and 0.6% above the state unemployment rate.