Northern Virginia unemployment, March 2021

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Although it continues to report improvements, the latest unemployment date shows Arlington’s jobless rate remains more than twice what it was at the onset of the pandemic.

With 143,079 employed in the civilian workforce and 5,917 looking for work, the county’s jobless rate in March was 4 percent, according to figures reported April 28 by the Virginia Employment Commission.

That’s down a tick from the rate of 4.1 percent reported in February, but remains well above the 1.8-percent rate of March 2020, the month that COVID roared in and upended daily life.

Arlington is not alone – most Northern Virginia localities continue to see modest month-over-month improvement in the jobs pictures, but stand at roughly double the rate of joblessness as a year before.

In March, unemployment rates were 3.4 percent in Falls Church (down from 3.5 percent in February); 4.1 percent in Loudoun County (down from 4.3 percent); 4.6 percent in Fairfax County (down from 4.8 percent); 4.9 percent in Alexandria (down from 5.2 percent); and 5.2 percent in Prince William County (down from 5.5 percent).

A year before, however, no Northern Virginia jurisdiction had a jobless rate higher than 2.5 percent.

For Northern Virginia as a whole, March’s jobless rate of 4.6 percent represented 1.58 million in the civilian workforce and just over 74,000 looking for jobs.

That rate was down from 4.8 percent a month before, but was still double the rate of 2.3 percent recorded in March 2020.

Across Virginia, the jobless rate of 5.1 percent in March was down from 5.4 percent a month previously, but up from 2.8 percent a year before. Non-agricultural employment across the commonwealth was up slightly (800 jobs), with employment rising in the construction and manufacturing sectors but down in trade, finance and leisure/hospitality. Government employment largely was flat.

Among Virginia’s 133 counties and cities, the lowest jobless rates for March were recorded in Madison County (3.2 percent), Falls Church (3.4 percent) and Poquoson (3.7 percent), with the highest in Petersburg (12.9 percent), Emporia (10 percent) and Hopewell (9.5 percent).

Nationally, the jobless rate of 6.2 percent was down from 6.6 percent a month before.