Virginia records the largest job increase in nearly a decade

(The Center Square) – Virginia’s labor participation rate rose to the highest recorded in nearly a decade, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics.

April's labor force participation rate increased by 0.3% to 66.2%, the highest since June 2014. The labor force in the commonwealth has risen by 21,687 this month. The BLS recorded more than 25,000 Virginians were employed in April than in March – leading the decline in unemployment to 3.1%.

The Virginia unemployment rate has decreased by 3,440 for a total of 140,129, with over 4.4 million in the workforce. The commonwealth’s unemployment rate remains below the national average of 3.4%.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin touted the latest employment statistics as evidence of the commonwealth’s business model.

“On day one we declared that ‘Virginia is open for business’ and April’s strong employment numbers – the highest labor force participation rate in nearly a decade – are just the latest example that Virginia is on the move,” said Youngkin.

The BLS released figures from its Current Employment Statistics Survey reporting employment in the commonwealth has risen by 87,000 since April 2022.

Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater attributes the employment rate to addressing challenges and providing the necessary resources for workers to meet the workforce's needs.

“We continue to focus on removing barriers to employment and equip workers with in-demand skills," Slater said. "We are committed to addressing these challenges by building and strengthening Virginia’s workforce for the jobs available today and for the future."

Despite the gains in the employment rate, Secretary of Commerce Caren Merrick noted the challenges of filling positions remain an issue. Merrick renewed the commonwealth’s commitment to filling those gaps.

“The Virginia labor market continues to show strength during the first part of 2023,” Merrick said. “Despite large gains in labor force participation, filling open positions remains a challenge for businesses in the commonwealth and we remain laser-focused on getting more Virginians into the workforce.”

The most significant job sector gains have been in leisure and hospitality services, finance and manufacturing. The leisure and hospitality industry added 2,700 jobs, while the finance sector increased by 2,300 and manufacturing gained 1,100 jobs.

Compared to a year ago, the largest job sector increase has been in the leisure and hospitality industry, up 6.3%. The second most significant gain has been in education and health services, with a 4.3% increase. The third largest is government jobs, accounting for a growth of 2.2%.

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