Virus Outbreak Virginia Unemployment

A sign on the front door of Tarrant's Café restaurant, as seen Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Richmond, Va.

(The Center Square) – Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in October and the number of employed residents increased, but the total labor force went down, according to the most-recent numbers released by the Virginia Employment Commission.

Unemployment fell from 6.2% in September to 5.3% in October, which continues to remain lower than the national average, which fell to 6.9%. The number of employed residents increased by 24,865, which grew the total number to 4,049,466 people and the total number of unemployed Virginians dropped by 40,454 people.

Private sector employment increased by 36,700 jobs, jumping to 3,192,400, and the public sector employment decreased by 2,700 jobs, dropping to 706,400. Nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by 34,000 jobs, reaching 3,898,800 jobs.

Employment increased in eight of 11 of the major industry sectors, with leisure and hospitality experiencing the largest increase, going up by 13,300 jobs. The second-largest increase was trade and transportation, with 8,400 new jobs. Professional and business services, education and health services, construction, manufacturing, information and the miscellaneous category also saw increases.

Government jobs saw the largest decrease, losing 2,700 jobs, and finance dropped by 1,400. Mining jobs remained unchanged.

The unemployment numbers still are higher than they were in the previous year primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic restrictions. Last year’s unemployment rate during October was 2.6 percentage points lower than this year.

Northam has been lifting some of the heavier restrictions over the past few months, which helped increase employment numbers. However, the governor imposed heavier restrictions last week as COVID-19 cases have begun to rise again. The effect of those restrictions is not reflected in these numbers, but members of the business community have warned they likely will increase unemployment numbers and slow down the recovery.

The additional restrictions, which are now in place, include a prohibition of on-site alcohol sales after 10 p.m., which is expected to hurt restaurants and bars. They also include a 25-person capacity limit for public and private events, which is expected to hurt hotels and conference centers, which host weddings, conferences and other events.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.