The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hampton Roads increased slightly to 4.7% in March-16, from 4.6% in February. Hampton Roads possesses the 14th highest unemployment rate among its reference MSAs, and its labor force has recently decreased back to the 2010 levels. It is notable that Hampton Roads’ performance within its reference MSAs has not declined significantly, and had the 18th highest unemployment rate in March-2015.
Recently, the unemployment rate in the region and the nation stopped improving, and the gap between the regional and the national unemployment rate has remained within a tight band over the past year (Hampton Roads’ rate has been 0.35 to 0.44 percentage points below the national rate). The similar trends conceal different underlying forces, as the national labor force has expanded by 2.4 million over the past year (+1.5%) and has had even greater employment growth, while Hampton Roads’ labor force has declined (-0.8%), and the number of people in the region claiming to be employed has also fallen (-0.2%).