For the second straight month, Hampton Roads showed significant declines in payroll employment. After experiencing a 5,200 job decline in August 2012, employment declined by an additional 3,700 jobs in September 2012, lowering employment in the region to 738,600 (down 1.3% over two months). This unfavorably compares to the U.S. as a whole which has seen increasing employment for the past 24 months. The region currently has 43,100 less jobs than in July 2007. At average growth rates, Hampton Roads will not match its previous employment numbers until September 2019.
The Hampton Roads unemployment rate declined to 6.47% in September 2012, down significantly from the 7.10% experienced the previous September and down 0.08% from August 2012. While the unemployment rate has gradually improved throughout the recession, the current improvement derives from a weak labor force participation rather than stronger employment conditions. While the labor force expanded by 230 persons in September 2012, it has declined by 3,600 since the beginning of 2012. This decline in labor force explains a significant portion of the improvement in unemployment rate this year (approximately 80% of the decline in the number of unemployed).