Seasonally adjusted employment in Hampton Roads expanded by 4,800 in July-2013, the second month in a row of strong employment gains. This raises regional payroll employment to 770,100, which is 2.8% higher than July-2012. As a result of the past two months, Hampton Roads is outpacing the state (+1.4% year-over-year) and the nation (+1.7% year-over-year).
Unfortunately, the region is still recovering from the recession, and employment in the region remains 2.5% below the peak employment of July-2007. Virginia and the U.S. started expanding consistently soon after the recession soon, and are closer to returning to peak employment levels. At average levels of employment growth, Hampton Roads would close its 19,700 jobs gap by October-2016.
Hampton Roads is now 6 years past its prerecession peak of July-2007, which makes it an excellent time to assess how industry employment has changed since the onset of the recession. 1 Retail trade experienced the largest decline over that period, and is still 11,200 positions below its prerecession peak. This has been driven both by the cyclical nature of retail sales and the growth of online sales. Construction is another industry that suffered significantly during the recession, which is down 11,200 between July-2007 and July-2013; however, this conceals a strong growth recently, as the construction industry has added 4,300 jobs over the past year.
Healthcare and social assistance have seen the largest gains since 2007, and added 12,600 jobs since July-2007. Federal and State payrolls also expanded during this period, though Federal employment declined over the past year as spending has declined both as the stimulus winds down and budgetary pressures emerge.
1 Hampton Roads peaked six months before the nation, because of the closing of the Ford plant in Norfolk.