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Blog | 3 min read

Richmond MSA’s labor force at an all-time high

May 17, 2023

ITL company employees

Both Greater Richmond and Virginia’s labor forces have broken records according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  

Greater Richmond’s growth 

The size of the Richmond MSA’s labor force is at an all-time high. The Richmond metro area’s March 2023 labor force, the number of people who have jobs, plus the number of people who do not have jobs and are looking for one, was 724,836, which is this highest number ever. Data for March is the most current available at this publication date. 

The number of employed people in the Richmond metro also hit a record high in March, with 703,213 performing work for pay — this included full-time, part-time and temporary workers. 

The 10 months between June 2022 and March 2023 have been Richmond’s highest ever for the size of the overall labor force and the number of employed workers. February 2023 ranked the second highest for each measure and July 2022 was the third highest, showing the labor force growth has not been linear.  

In the past two years following COVID from March 2021 to March 2023, the hospitality industry has bounced back, with restaurants, retail and hotel occupations all in the top 10 of occupations adding jobs. In Greater Richmond, the industries adding the most jobs include amusement services (such as Kings Dominion), elementary schools, employment agencies, support activities for real estate (such as the CoStar Group), warehousing and supply chain.  

The number of people unemployed, those without jobs and who are actively looking for one is trending downward and below the national average. Unemployment was 21,623 in March 2023, for an unemployment rate of 3.0 percent. This rate is slightly higher than Virginia’s 2.5 percent and slightly lower than the national rate of 3.5 percent.  

Furthermore, the Richmond MSA’s population is the fastest growing in the state. The population stood at 1.34 million people in 2022 according to the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Each year since 1990, the Richmond metro area has added an average of 13,713 net new residents and gained an average of 7,200 net new jobs – nearly a two-to-one resident to job ratio. 

Throughout the commonwealth 

Since July, there has been an increase of nearly 18,000 more employed Virginians, bringing the total to 219,452 more employees than in January of 2022 and the total number of employed residents to 4,481,008. The total labor force for the Commonwealth of Virginia rose by 8,981 to 4,597,232, the largest number since counting began in 1976 according to figures published in August 2023 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor force participation rate for all of Virginia has been steadily increasing, rising 0.1 percentage points from June’s rate to 66.7 percent in July, which is the highest rate since November 2012. 

Throughout the state from July 2022 to July 2023, education and health services had the largest job gains with the second largest gain occurring in government. Since July, the four industries experiencing the highest job gains are education and health services, construction, government and information. The industries facing the largest job losses in Virginia are trade, transportation and utilities and manufacturing. 

Learn more about the region’s demographics here.