Governor Glenn Youngkin Announces that the Commonwealth’s Unemployment Rate Decreased to 3.2 Percent in February, Labor Participation Rate Still Lagging

Virginia payroll employment increased by 21,300 in February

RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that Virginia’s unemployment rate fell to 3.2% in February while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 21,300 jobs. The Commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2% is 1.4 percentage points below the rate from a year ago. The labor force increased by 14,138 to 4,291,990, as the number of unemployed residents decreased by 3,330 to 136,004. The number of employed residents rose by 17,468 to 4,155,986. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which fell from 4.0 to 3.8 percent.


The Commonwealth’s labor force participation rate increased slightly by 0.1 of a percentage point to 63.0 percent in February. The labor force participation rate measures the proportion of the civilian population age 16 and older that is employed or actively looking for work.


“Given our current economy and business environment, now is a great time to forge a career and join the workforce in the Commonwealth.” said Governor Youngkin. “Although we see an uptick in the labor force participation, my administration is laser focused on continually increasing our labor participation rate.”


“With a 3.2% unemployment rate in February, Virginia continues to outperform most states,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “The number of employed residents grew while our labor force rose significantly last month.”


“The latest jobs figures indicate that Virginia is trending in the right direction,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “The increase in February payroll jobs is encouraging, as year-over-year job growth was spread across most industries."


Virginia was tied with Georgia for the fourth lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states behind Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arkansas. Virginia was tied with Georgia for the sixth lowest rate among the states east of the Mississippi. Indiana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Alabama had lower rates. Virginia was ranked 17th in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.


Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia had been positive for six consecutive two years ago in February 2020 but dramatically changed course with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2022, Virginia’s over-the-year job gain of 2.9% was less than the 4.6% increase nationwide.


From February 2021 to February 2022, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia gained 111,900 jobs, an increase of 2.9%. In February, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 99,600 jobs, while employment in the public sector gained 12,300 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment increases while two saw employment decreases. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 55,300 jobs (+16.4%). The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in professional and business services, up 18,300 jobs (+2.4%). Other job gains occurred in trade and transportation (+15,600 jobs), government (+12,300 jobs), and education and health services (+6,000 jobs). Within government, local (+12,600 jobs) and state government (+1,000 jobs) both gained jobs over the year while federal government saw a decrease in employment (-1,300 jobs). The largest job loss during February occurred in finance (-2,900 jobs) to 207,200. The second largest decrease occurred in manufacturing with a decrease of 2,200 jobs to 236,200.


For more details, visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at