Jobs generic

(U.S. Census Bureau)

A year into the COVID crisis, the Washington region has made strides in recouping its job losses but overall employment remains down nearly 75,000 jobs from the onset of the pandemic.

With 3.33 million in the civilian workforce and about 185,000 looking for jobs, the Washington region’s unemployment rate stood at 5.6 percent in March, according to figures reported April 28 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s another in a series of ongoing monthly improvements in the local jobs picture, with the unemployment rate declining from 5.8 percent in February. But the rate remains elevated well above the 3.2 percent reported in March 2020, when the pandemic first hit.

In March 2020, the region had reported 3.51 million in the civilian workforce and 111,100 looking for jobs, according to the federal data.

Comparing March of 2020 to March of 2021 is complicated, because the pandemic’s impact rolled across the nation at different rates that month.

That said, year-over-year unemployment this March was up in 308 of the nation’s metropolitan areas, lower in 75 and unchanged in six.

Sixteen metro corridors posted jobless rates of more than 10 percent for the month, with 10 recording averages of less than 3 percent. A total of 245 metro areas had jobless rates below the March 2021 national average of 6.5 percent, with 138 higher and six the same. (The national unemployment figure in March 2020 had been 4.5 percent.)

Among all metro areas, the lowest jobless rate for March 2021 was turned in by Logan (Utah) at 2.1 percent. On the other side of the coin was El Centro (Calif.) with a rate of 15.7 percent.

Of the 51 metropolitan areas with more than a million residents, the lowest jobless rates for March were found in Salt Lake City at 3 percent and Birmingham at 3.2 percent. The highest rates were found in Los Angeles (9.8 percent), Las Vegas (8.8 percent) and New York City (also 8.8 percent).

Across Virginia, the jobless rate for March was 5.1 percent, representing 4.25 million in the civilian workforce and just under 218,000 seeking jobs. That’s up from a rate of 2.8 percent a year previously, when just 123,200 were seeking work.

Month over month, however, Virginia saw an improvement, with the jobless rate falling from 5.4 percent in February.

Among the metropolitan areas across Virginia, jobless rates for March ranged from 4 percent in Winchester to 5.8 percent in Virginia Beach.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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