Unemployment March 2020

Arlington retained its pole position, having the best jobs picture in the commonwealth in March, even as unemployment figures began what is ultimately expected to be a major spike when April figures are released.

With 153,664 county residents in the civilian workforce and 3,412 looking for jobs, the county’s unemployment rate of 2.2 percent was up from 1.8 percent in February, according to figures reported April 29 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The slight tick upward was on par with those in other jurisdictions across Northern Virginia, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold while the monthly jobless data were being collected.

Among other jurisdictions: Joblessness rose from 1.8 percent to 2.3 percent in Falls Church; from 2.1 percent to 2.5 percent in Alexandria; from 2.1 percent to 2.6 percent in Loudoun and Fairfax counties; and from 2.4 percent to 3 percent in Prince William County.

For Northern Virginia as a whole, the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 2.7 percent was up from 2.2 percent in February, representing 1.64 million in the civilian workforce and 45,700 looking for work.

The figures are expected to be significantly different when April’s report arrives in late May. State officials say that massive increases in first-time filings for unemployment compensation spiked in late March and early April before moderating, but that the number of Virginians receiving unemployment payments is “stratospheric” compared to normal times and even to previous economic downturns.

Among Virginia’s 134 cities and counties, the lowest jobless rates for the month were found in Arlington; Falls Church; then in a three-way tie at 2.5 percent, Madison County and the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax. The highest rates were reported in Buchanan County (8.1 percent), Dickenson County (7.3 percent) and Northumberland and Lancaster counties (7 percent apiece).

Statewide, the non-seasonally-adjusted jobless rate of 3.3 percent in March was up from 2.8 percent in February, well below the national rate of 4.5 percent.

Nationally, Virginia ranked in the middle of the pack, jobs-wise. The lowest unemployment rates recorded for the month were in North Dakota (2.2 percent); New Hampshire (2.3 percent); and South Carolina, Idaho and Hawaii (2.6 percent) each. The highest rates were found in Louisiana (6.9 percent); Nevada (6.3 percent); West Virginia (6.1 percent); and Pennsylvania (6 percent).

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