Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Virginia economy

5.1% jobless rate is double what it was a year ago.

- BY JOHN REID BLACKWELL jblackwell@timesdispa­ (804) 775-8123

Virginia’s unemployme­nt rate dropped slightly in March from February as employers in the state added a net gain of about 800 jobs.

The jobless rate in March was 5.1%, down slightly from 5.2% in February and 5.3% in January, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Friday.

The unemployme­nt rate was still double the 2.6% rate in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting to affect the job market. Virginia’s jobless rate hit a peak of 11.3% in April 2020, state officials said.

Last month’s unemployme­nt rate in Virginia remained below the national rate of 6%. The rates have been adjusted for seasonal variations.

Payrolls in the state were still down by about 182,000 jobs last month compared with the same month a year ago.

Five of the 11 major industry sectors in Virginia gained jobs from February to March. The largest job gain was in profession­al and business services, which added 2,300 jobs. Manufactur­ing added 2,000 jobs, and constructi­on gained 600 jobs.

The largest job loss in March occurred in the trade, transporta­tion and utilities sector, with a decrease of 2,200 jobs.

The leisure and hospitalit­y industry, which has been hit especially hard by business closures and canceled travel during the pandemic, had the second-largest decrease with a loss of 1,300 jobs. Employment in that sector was down nearly 19% last month compared with the same month in 2020.

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