Virginia’s unemployment rate drops to 4.5% as labor force increases in May

Virginia News

File Photo (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s unemployment rate fell from 4.7% to 4.5% in May, a small dip that keeps the commonwealth’s jobless rate well above what it was last year and below the national average. On top of the drop in the unemployment rate, Virginia’s labor force increased after decreasing by nearly 12,500 in April.

While an increase in vaccination rates have led Gov. Ralph Northam to lift coronavirus restrictions on businesses, employers have expressed concern over their ability to attract workers.

In April, Virginia’s labor force dropped by nearly 12,422 to 4,225,614. In May, that figure moved to 4,229,852 with 4,042 people joining the workforce. According to a release from Northam’s office, Virginia experienced a 7% increase in jobs from the year before.

The commonwealth’s jobless rate remains below the national average, which sits at 5.8%, and is 4% below what it was in May 2020. Gov. Northam said in a statement Wednesday that Virginia’s recovery is “outpacing the rest of the country” and efforts will be made to assist communities that have struggled the most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we will remain focused on helping the communities that COVID-19 hit hardest and making sure all Virginians have the resources they need to thrive,” Northam said.

Data from Northam’s office revealed the number of unemployed residents in Virginia dropped by 8,061 in May, with employed residents increasing by 12,103 in the month.

“With over 4.2 million Virginians fully vaccinated, we are reaching what looks like the final stages of this pandemic,” Megan Healy, Northam’s chief workforce development advisor, said in a statement. “Our Administration is committed to helping Virginians return to work and make sure that they have the skills and support they need to thrive in the post-pandemic job market.”

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