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ArlingtonBusinessRegional jobless rate continues its post-COVID decline

Regional jobless rate continues its post-COVID decline

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The Washington region was among 375 of the nation’s 389 metropolitan areas to see lower year-over-year unemployment in new data.

But that lower jobless rate is not always translated to more people actually being employed.

With about 3.35 million in the civilian workforce and 111,500 looking for jobs, the Washington region’s jobless rate of 3.3 percent in December was down from 3.7 percent a month before and roughly half the 6.5-percent rate of December 2020, according to figures reported Feb. 2 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It was hardly alone: Only 14 of the nation’s 389 metro areas had lower jobless rates, with 13 of them reporting higher rates and one unchanged.
However, the data look different when viewed from the perspective of non-farm employment. According to the government, payroll employment was up in only 108 of the 389 metro areas, and essentially unchanged in the remainder.


For the nation as a whole, December’s non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was down from 6.5 percent a year before.

Among all metro areas, the lowest unemployment rates turned in for the last month of 2021 came in a trio of Indiana communities: Elkhart (0.9 percent), Bloomington (1 percent) and Columbus (also 1 percent). The highest rate was recorded in El Centro, Calif., at 14.7 percent.

All told, 245 metro areas had lower jobless rates than the national average for the month, with 135 above and nine equal to it.

Among metro areas of more than a million in population, the lowest rates were found in Indianapolis (1.2 percent) and Salt Lake City (1.3 percent), with the highest in Las Vegas (6 percent). Year-over-year jobless rates were down in 50 of those 51 populous metro areas, while being up slightly in Jacksonville.

In Virginia, December’s jobless rate of 2.7 percent was unchanged from November and down from 5.7 percent a year before, representing 4.25 million in the civilian workforce and 113,200 looking for jobs.

Among the various metro areas across Virginia, December’s unemployment rate ranged from 2.1 percent in Blacksburg to 3.2 percent in Richmond.

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