By IAN MUNRO
Daily News-Record 9/19/20
Virginia employers created 68,000 jobs in August as the economy attempted to rebuild itself, said Joe Mengedoth, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, citing Virginia Employment Commission data.
The commonwealth lost a total of 440,000 jobs in March and April, but has now added back 188,000 jobs, or roughly 43% of the jobs lost, according to Mengedoth.
“Just about every major industry sector in the state expanded in August,” he said.
The largest growth was in government sector, which added 40,800 jobs in August, with 32,000 in local government, according to Mengedoth.
Many of the government jobs were in education, where almost all were driven by schools, where there was a non-seasonally adjusted increase of about 25,000 jobs, he said.
“I think for quite a while we were hearing that the unemployment insurance benefi ts were keeping people out of work, but then we’ve also heard concerns about health and childcare,” Mengedoth said. He added childcare is a large issue for getting people back to work, especially as many schools have kept kids at home to learn remotely.
Unemployment in August continued to fall since spiking in April, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In March, the unemployment rate in the commonwealth was 3.3%. By April, it had jumped to 11.2% and has trended downward since to 9% in May, 8.1% in June, 7.9% in July and 6.1% in August.
The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the state’s highest recorded unemployment rates on record since the metric started being calculated for 1976. The highest unemployment rate outside of the COVID- 19 pandemic was seen in February of 2010, in the wake of the 2007- 08 financial crisis, when 7.5% of Virginians were unemployed, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In August job growth, the next largest gains were made in the trade, transportation and utility sector, which included retail and wholesale. Roughly 10,500 jobs were
added across these industries in Virginia, driven mostly by an increase in retail jobs, Mengedoth said.
One industry — construction — was better off in August than where it was last year, he said.
In fact, construction employment numbers were higher in June than pre-pandemic levels, according to Mengedoth.
The leisure and hospitality sector remained the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mengedoth. The sector in Virginia is down 20% from where it was last year, he said. Other industries have retracted 2 to 7%, Mengedoth said.