N.Va. unemployment, December 2019

How low can it go? That may be the question for Arlington’s unemployment rate.

The jobless figure squeezed down to 1.6 percent in December, ending the year at its lowest rate of 2019 and – for the umpteenth month and year in a row – lowest in the commonwealth.

The figure represented 153,729 county residents employed in the civilian workforce and 2,465 looking for jobs, according to figures reported Feb. 5 by the Virginia Employment Commission.

The county’s jobless rate had been 1.7 percent in November, and the county’s further decline was emblematic of trends across Northern Virginia. The unemployment rate dropped from 1.8 percent to 1.7 percent in Falls Church; from 1.9 percent to 1.8 percent in Alexandria; and from 2.0 percent to 1.9 percent in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. It was unchanged at 2.2 percent in Prince William County.

In Northern Virginia as a whole, December’s jobless rate of 2 percent was down from 2.1 percent a month before, representing 1.65 million in the civilian workforce and 33,100 looking for jobs.

Statewide, the jobless rate of 2.5 percent bumped up a tick from 2.4 percent, as the labor force expanded to a new record for the 18th consecutive month. The finance, leisure/hospitality and private education/healthcare sectors saw improvements in job totals, while manufacturing and government  sectors posted declines.

Among Virginia’s 134 cities and counties, the lowest unemployment rates for the month were reported in Arlington, Falls Church and, tied for third at 1.8 percent, Alexandria, the city of Fairfax and Madison County. The highest rates were recorded in Dickenson and Buchanan counties (5.9 percent) and Pulaski County (5.8 percent).

Among metro areas, Northern Virginia recorded the lowest jobless rate in the Old Dominion, followed at 2.1 percent by the trio of Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Staunton/Waynesboro. The highest rates were found in Blacksburg/Christiansburg (3.4 percent), Lynchburg (2.9 percent) and Kingsport/Bristol (2.8 percent).

Virginia’s unemployment rate tied it with New Hampshire and Hawaii in the national rankings. The lowest rates for December were found in South Carolina, Utah and Vermont, each with 2.3 percent, while Alaska at 6.1 percent posted the highest rate.

(Nationally, month-over-month unemployment rates were lower in 11 states, higher in four and unchanged in 35 and the District of Columbia, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.)

According to federal data, eight states – Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Washington – posted their lowest December jobless rates since the figures began being recorded in 1976.

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