Hampton Roads’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to decline for the third consecutive month, resulting in a 5.54% unemployment rate in Jan-14. Unfortunately, weakness in labor force participation drove the decline, and the labor force fell by 7,116 since Sep-13. Overall, the labor force has remained unchanged in size since Jan-13. Over the same period, the U.S. labor force shrank slightly while the commonwealth’s labor force expanded.
Currently the Hampton Roads unemployment rate is half a percentage point higher than the nation’s, but still fares significantly better than the Jan-14 U.S. rate of 6.72%.
The region’s employment fell by 4,100 in Jan-14 (on a seasonally adjusted basis), following up a weak spring. Recent revisions in the data (see the Mar 21st Special Report for more details- http://www.hrpdcva.gov/uploads/docs/SR23_Revised_Estimates_Suggest_Troubled_Economy.pdf). The region has lost jobs four out of the past five months, and it is difficult to estimate when the region will return to pre-recession levels of employment.
If the region equaled its fastest pace of job creation, employment would not return to July 2007 levels until December 2015. At average levels of job growth, it would take until Jun-2019 to return to peak employment, as the region has a 33,500 jobs deficit.