The underlying data don’t tell quite so rosy a tale, but Arlington’s jobless rate fell nearly a half-percent from December to January, part of an ongoing trend toward improving, albeit slowly improving, economic recovery.
With 140,629 county residents employed in the civilian workforce and 6,319 looking for jobs, Arlington’s unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in January was down from 4.7 percent in December, according to figures reported March 22 by the Virginia Employment Commission.
That was part of a trend toward lower jobless rates across Northern Virginia, although those figures were not being matched by increases in those employed. In fact, there were about 800 fewer county residents with jobs in January than in February (although fewer were looking for work, too).
Across Northern Virginia, jobless rates declined from 4 percent to 3.9 percent in Falls Church; from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent in Loudoun County; from 5.5 percent to 5.1 percent in Fairfax County; from 5.9 percent to 5.5 percent in Alexandria; and from 5.9 percent to 5.8 percent in Prince William County.
For Northern Virginia as a whole, the jobless rate dipped from 5.3 percent in December to 5.1 percent in January, representing 1.51 million in the civilian workforce and 81,300 looking for jobs.
But there remains a long way to go: Unemployment rates in all Northern Virginia jurisdictions remain well over twice what they were at the start of 2020, before the pandemic and government-imposed economic lockdowns took hold. In Arlington, the January 2020 jobless rate had been 1.9 percent, lowest in the region.
Among Virginia’s 134 cities and counties, the lowest jobless rates for January were reported in Madison County (3.5 percent), Poquoson (3.7 percent), Falls Church (3.9 percent), Rappahannock County (4 percent) and Clarke and Frederick counties (4.1 percent each). The highest rates were found in the cities of Petersburg, Emporia, Hopewell and Martinsville, all above 10 percent.
Virginia’s jobless rate of 5.7 percent put it in the middle of the national pack; the lowest rates for the month were turned in by South Dakota and Utah (3.1 percent each) with the highest in Hawaii (10.2 percent) and California (9 percent). A total of 33 states plus the District of Columbia had lower month-over-month joblessness in January, while the remaining states were largely stable.
In Virginia, the number of those employed in non-farm capacities increased 14,100, or 0.4 percent, from December, although total employment remains down nearly 194,000 (4.7 percent) from a year before.
Virginia’s leisure/hospitality sector, which was hard hit by the pandemic and shutdowns, continues to show a bit of a comeback, with employment rising 4,700 to 654,400 in January. Construction and health-care jobs also increased, while manufacturing jobs were lower.