Hampton Roads' unemployment rate jumps to 7.6% in January

Hampton Roads' unemployment rate hit 7.6 percent in January, after falling to 7 percent in December, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in January. The U.S. rate was 9.8 percent. Figures are not seasonally adjusted.


An increase in the unemployment rate is typical this time of year, as the end of seasonal jobs triggers cuts in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. Bad weather also may have kept people from getting to work during the week of the employment survey, the commission said.

This January's unemployment rate is better than January 2010, when it was 7.9 percent.


Among cities and counties, Williamsburg recorded the second-highest unemployment rate in the state at 18 percent, trailing just Martinsville at 19.9 percent.

Arlington had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.1 percent.

Locally, Hampton's rate was 8.9 percent and Newport News' rate was 8.6 percent.

Poquoson was 5.8 percent, York was 6.1 percent, and Gloucester County was 7.1 percent.


Isle of Wight County was 7.4 percent; James City County, 7.2 percent; Mathews County, 7.9 percent; and Middlesex County, 7.5 percent.

"We shouldn't pay quite so much attention to ups and downs in the unemployment rate. After all, they're taking a sample," said James V. Koch, professor of economics and president emeritus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk. "On the face of it, it's not good news. But it isn't perhaps as disasterous as it first might seem because of the way they collect the data. If the rate stays that high and continues to climb, then we'd say, 'Gee, we're in for a double-dip recession.'"

The increase may be due to workers who had given up on the job search and are out looking again because they think the economy has improved, he said.

"If there are more people out there seeking a job, that's good news, because that probably means they think they'll get one."

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