Governor McAuliffe Announces Decrease in Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate

January 24, 2017

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down 0.1 percentage point in December to 4.1 percent. Compared to one year ago, the seasonally adjusted employment rate was also down 0.1 percentage point.  Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues below the national rate of 4.7 percent. 

The Governor also announced that initial claims filed in 2016 for unemployment insurance benefits were the lowest Virginia has seen in over 40 years – since 1973 when just over 86,940 claims were filed. The more than 178,400 initial claims filed in 2016 were lower than the previous year when nearly 186,900 claims were filed and lower than 1974 when nearly 185,000 claims were filed, despite the fact that Virginia’s population has grown considerably since then.

“This month’s jobs report is a clear sign that, despite the headwinds of sequestration and defense cuts, Virginia’s economy is growing and creating jobs,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “Our efforts to build a new Virginia economy are working, but we can’t afford to let up now. I look forward to working with our partners in the General Assembly this session to make smart, targeted policy choices and investments that will move our economy forward and create new opportunity for Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

Virginia has the third lowest unemployment rate among major U.S. states, behind Massachusetts and Indiana. 

Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment increased by 14,100 jobs in December – the most significant monthly increase in the nation. Virginia employment is 49,600 jobs higher that it was in December of 2015.  Household employment rose by over 18,400 – the fourth consecutive monthly increase – also setting a record high.

Virginia’s labor force expanded for the fifth consecutive month to 4,278,223, up nearly 17,100 people in December, setting a new record high for the Commonwealth. Virginia’s labor force has doubled since the 1970s. 

“Today’s announcement is a testament to Governor McAuliffe’s and the General Assembly’s bipartisan efforts to build a new Virginia economy and work with our private sector partners to create quality, high-paying jobs for citizens across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Virginia continues to see labor force expansions and positive over-the-year employment growth showing that more Virginians are seeking work and are becoming gainfully employed, contributing to the overall economic vitality of the Commonwealth.”

Virginia’s over-the-year employment growth was 1.3 percent in December and has been positive for 33 consecutive months. Nationally, total nonfarm employment grew 1.5 percent in December compared to a year ago.

In December, the private sector recorded an over-the-year employment gain of 45,900 jobs, and the public sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 3,700 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, eight of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at

To view the published release, please visit: 


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