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State jobs report shows steady economy 

Two people service a customer
People work at The Beet Box in Richmond's Fan District. Virginia's unemployment rate remained low in October, at 2.7%. (File photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Virginia’s unemployment rate went up slightly last month, but it’s still significantly lower than the nationwide rate, according to a preliminary federal jobs report released Friday. 

“The key takeaway from the data is that we're still seeing a strong, healthy labor market, although it is a little bit slower now than it was a couple of months ago,” said Joe Mengedoth, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Virginia’s unemployment rate was 2.7% in October, up from 2.6% in September but down from last year, when the unemployment rate was 3.7%. Virginia was one of 24 states with a higher unemployment rate. Only one state’s unemployment rate decreased.

Virginia continued to differ from the rest of the country in that job openings were on the rise in the commonwealth, while nationwide openings were lower.  

“On the supply side it's still a tight labor market,” Mengedoth said. “We still hear a lot from employers about difficulties finding workers. But on the demand side, it looks like there's not been a slowdown in Virginia at all as there has been nationally.”

Overall, there were more Virginians with nonfarm employment – Virginia employers added 6,900 jobs in October. 

The gains in October were driven by manufacturing, professional business services, and health services, but those gains were mitigated by losses in leisure and hospitality. The pace of employment growth is slowing though. 

In a statement Friday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the economic indicators from the state and national level were “delivering mixed messages, but we should be encouraged by the slight pickup in establishment jobs in October.” 

The general signs of the economy “cooling” are expected after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to contain inflation. 

Renee Haltom is the regional executive for the Richmond Fed and speaks with business owners on how they experience the economy. 

“I would say people are cautious about the future and they're thinking about how to prepare for a slowing economy,” Haltom said. “But they are far from putting their full recession playbooks into gear.”