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May 18, 2012

Virginia Employment Rebound Stalls

Rate of employment growth not keeping up with working-age population growth

“At this rate, we will never fill the current hole we are in.” – Michael Cassidy

Virginia’s unemployment rate remained flat at 5.6 percent in April, following a small tick down last month, and the state added only 2,700 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the data also shows a small drop in the size of the labor force, neither that decrease, nor the small increase in jobs was enough to move the needle on the unemployment rate.

“This is not good news,” says Michael Cassidy, President of The Commonwealth Institute, an independent fiscal and economic policy organization that tracks employment trends in the state. “The rate of employment growth in Virginia over the past month and year is not even enough to keep up with the rate of growth in our working-age population. At this rate, we will never fill the current hole we are in.”

Additional analysis of the most recent monthly data shows:

  • When factoring in growth in the working age population, the total jobs gap remains very high at over 304,000 jobs needed to get back to pre-recession employment levels.
  • In the past 12 months, Virginia has added an average 2,900 jobs per month. However, in order to fill the jobs gap in the next three years, Virginia would need to create at least 11,000 jobs every month. This is a rate of job creation not experienced in Virginia since 1987.
  • Three years out from the official end of the recession, the unemployment rate remains 30 percent higher than it was during the worst part of the last recession in 2001.
The Commonwealth Institute

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