RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia’s unemployment rate held steady in December, as both the labor force grew and employment levels increased.

The Commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.6 percent in December, which is 0.2 percentage point below the rate from a year ago. The labor force expanded for the eighteenth consecutive month by 14,058, or 0.3 percent, to set a new record high of 4,454,888, as the number of unemployed residents rose by 324. The number of employed residents increased by 13,734 to set a new high of 4,338,521. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged at 3.5 percent.

“I am pleased to see the Commonwealth’s consistently low unemployment rate hold steady for a third consecutive month,” said Governor Northam. “We will keep the momentum going in 2020 by engaging more Virginians in our labor force, helping businesses of all sizes grow and thrive, and connecting skills to jobs with enhanced workforce training opportunities for in-demand jobs.”

Virginia had the second lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states. Virginia had the third best rate among the states east of the Mississippi along with New Hampshire. Virginia ranked sixth in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate along with New Hampshire.

Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 69 consecutive months and has accelerated slightly in recent months. In December, Virginia’s over-the-year growth of 1.1 percent was less than the 1.4 growth rate nationwide.

In December, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 50,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector decreased by 5,400 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, seven of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, while four experienced employment losses.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at vec.virginia.gov.

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Alexa WESR