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State jobless rate is falling, workforce still catching up

When we could see isolated shower, thunderstorm Wednesday
Posted at 8:59 AM, Jan 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-01 09:19:17-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s unemployment rate has fallen significantly since the coronavirus pandemic had shut down much of the economy last year. But the state's labor force is still slightly smaller than what it was before the pandemic began.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the state's unemployment rate peaked at 11.3% in April 2020. The rate fell to 3.4% by November of this year.

At the same time, the number of people who are working or actively looking for work in Virginia has not fully recovered. The state's workforce was at 63% in November. It was at 66% before the pandemic began.

Some have blamed labor shortages on the enhanced unemployment benefits that were offered through summer 2021. But a report from Old Dominion University said numerous factors are likely at play.

Those factors include child care availability, health concerns regarding the coronavirus and people transitioning from one type of work to another. There's also been an uptick in the number of people who are retiring.