Virginia’s unemployment rate drops to 2.6 percent

RICHMOND — Virginia had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the United States last month, officials announced Tuesday.

The commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 2.7% in September to 2.6% in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [bls.gov]. Virginia’s jobless rate continues to be much lower than the national average of 3.6% [bls.gov].

Only three states had an unemployment rate in October lower than Virginia’s: Vermont (at 2.2%) and North Dakota and Utah (both at 2.5%).

Virginia was tied with Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina with a jobless rate of 2.6%.

The state with the highest unemployment rate last month was Alaska at 6.2%, followed by Mississippi (5.5%) and the District of Columbia (5.4%).

Gov. Ralph Northam said more people are working in Virginia than ever before. He said October was the 16th consecutive month that the commonwealth’s labor force had expanded.

“Virginia’s economy is headed in the right direction,” Northam said in a statement [governor.virginia.gov] issued during an economic development mission in the Middle East. “The competition for talent is on, because low unemployment gives workers more options about where to work.”

Competition can also help boost wages. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the average weekly wage [bls.gov] in Virginia had risen 3.7%, to $1,113, between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019. Nationally, wages increased 3.8%, to $1,095, during that period.

“Next month, we will put forward a budget that continues investing in workforce development to ensure long-term, shared economic growth in our Commonwealth,” Northam said [governor.virginia.gov]. “We want Virginia to be the best state to work in and the best place to run a business.”

Virginia’s unemployment rate has been dropping: in October 2018, it was 2.8% — tied for the seventh lowest in the U.S. In September of this year, the rate was 2.7% — tied for the fifth lowest.

“It is very satisfying whenever the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate drops, as it has been doing consistently throughout 2019,” Brian Ball, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, said in a statement [governor.virginia.gov].

“Virginia’s highly trained and skilled workforce makes us a natural fit for top employers. We will continue to recruit those businesses that create productive job opportunities for Virginians.”

By Yahya Alzahrany, Capital News Service

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