April 20, 2012
Quarterly Numbers Show Modest Improvement
While Virginia unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in March, down from 5.7 percent in February, the state didn’t add jobs in March, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, three years out from the official end of the recession, analysis of the data shows unemployment remains 30 percent higher than it was during the worst part of the last recession in 2001.
“The drop in unemployment is welcome news,” says Michael Cassidy, President of The Commonwealth Institute, an independent fiscal and economic policy organization that tracks employment trends in the state, “but the fact that there were no new jobs created last month sends a cautionary signal about the strength of the recovery.”
Additional analysis of the most recent monthly data shows:
- Since June 2009, the official end of the recession, Virginia has added 74,900 jobs.
- When compared to pre-recession levels in December 2007, total employment in Virginia is still down 54,400 jobs.
The new March data also provides an opportunity to take stock of the first quarter of 2012. Here, Virginia did have some modest gains. For the first quarter of 2012, Virginia posted an increase of 12,200 jobs over the last quarter of 2011, and an increase of 39,500 jobs over the first quarter of 2011. However, when factoring in growth in the working age population, the total jobs gap remains very high at over 300,000 jobs needed to get back to pre-recession employment levels.
“While the quarterly numbers show modest job growth,” says Cassidy, “we still have a long way to go to get back to pre-recession employment levels in our state. Until we do, our public services need to remain strong to get people the help they need to stay afloat and get back to work successfully.”