Seasonally adjusted payroll employment in Hampton Roads expanded by 3 jobs in March (+ 0.42%). This was the best single month for growth since January 2007. The metropolitan employment report, released Wednesday May 2nd, also revised the payroll estimate for February, increasing it by 1. This combination indicates an improved labor market and gives hope for a strong period of regional recovery. Employment still requires significant gains before returning to prerecession levels; payrolls remain 40걄 jobs below the prerecession peak of July 2007. Using reasonable estimates for recovery, the region might not return to previous levels of employment until October 2018.
The unemployment rate in the region has declined significantly over the past 6 months; declining from 7.32% in October 2011 to 6.45% in March 2012 on a seasonally adjusted basis. This decrease has been driven by growth in the number of employed persons, and unlike the nation, Hampton Roads’ civilian labor force has expanded over the past year, and now stands at 848꾚. The number of unemployed persons has declined by 2 since March of last year, and by 6걄 since October, indicating that recovery might be accelerating in the region.
Industry and Employment
The construction industry still continues to be weak in the region declining by 16 over the past five years and by 2꺜 jobs over the last year alone. Several industries have grown throughout the recession in this region including federal employment as well as healthcare and social assistance. Other industries saw declines during the recession but have begun to recover; including cyclical industries like retail sales (still down 5 jobs since 2007, but gained 3 since Mar 2011). This indicates that the recovery might have taken hold in Hampton Roads.