According to the most recent release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment situation in Hampton Roads improved significantly over the past few months. Non-farm civilian employment in the region realized an increase of 5,800 jobs in August-2013, and 15,700 jobs over the past three months (seasonally adjusted). Employment climbed by 23,000 between August-2012 and August-2013, and seasonally adjusted employment has reached 768,000, a figure last seen in July of 2008. While employment remains 12,600 positions below the prerecession peak (or 1.6% below the prerecession peak), this appears to be the most impressive 3-month period of employment growth since the dataset began in January 1990.
Consistent with strong overall employment growth, year-over-year growth has been strong in the majority of industries, with only Federal Civilian employment significantly down (-1,400). Healthcare continues its strong growth (+5,500), while both Leisure & Hospitality (+5,300) and the Construction (+4,700) industries have seen strong growth as the recovery continues in tourism and the housing sector. Construction employment is still down 9,700 jobs from the August 2007 level.
Unemployment Rate Continues at 6%
The regional unemployment rate continues to hover around 6%, but this obscures the improving labor market, as the household survey indicates that the labor force has expanded strongly over the past month (+1,700) and the past year (+15,533 since August of 2012). This is especially impressive compared to the state unemployment rate, which has increased from 5.2% in April-2013 to 5.8% in August-2013, on a seasonally adjusted basis, indicating that Hampton Roads has outperformed the Commonwealth in recent months. The regional labor force has also increased three times as quickly as the national labor force over the past year.