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Local region leading way in jobs comeback

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Northern Virginia was responsible for just over half the jobs gained (or resurrected) across the commonwealth in 2021, according to new data, although the local region also was responsible for a larger percentage of the jobs lost across Virginia during the initial stages of the COVID pandemic.

Virginia’s year-over-year job increase totaled 54,900 in December, according to figures reported by the Virginia Employment Commission, a comeback of 3.8 percent compared to the job total recorded in December 2020.

That’s just over 51 percent of the statewide increase in jobs. Virginia’s total non-farm employment grew 107,000 (2.8 percent) to 3,988,100 during the same period.

The bulk of those jobs came in the private sector, which grew 90,000 to 3,272,300 to end 2021. Public-sector positions grew 17,000 to 715,800 during the same period, with local- and state-government jobs seeing a comeback but federal positions down slightly.


From the end of 2020 to the end of 2021, the leisure/hospitality industry – so ravaged during the initial burst of COVID and government-imposed lockdowns that accompanied it – grew 10.4 percent. Business/professional jobs, which were less impacted at the outset, also were up, rising 3 percent.

Construction jobs, which rolled right through the initial COVID crisis, declined slightly in 2021, ending the year down 2,000 from where they started. Jobs in the finance sector also declined.

Northern Virginia’s increase in raw numbers of jobs was by far the largest in the commonwealth, but other regions posted higher percentage increases than the local area’s 3.8 percent.

Blacksburg saw an increase of 7.6 percent in overall jobs, while Harrisonburg posted an increase of 5.3 percent.

All metropolitan areas of the commonwealth saw higher job totals at the end of 2021 than at the beginning, although Richmond, with an increase of just 0.2 percent, was essentially flat.

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