Hiring surged in the U.S. in June and average hourly wages increased as more Americans return to a pre-pandemic way of life. However, the unemployment rate in Fairfax County, Virginia has improved from the original fall at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but the rate increased from April to May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. May figures are the most recent for local unemployment.
The Fairfax County unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in May, up from 3.6 percent in April. That reflected significant improvement from May 2020, when the unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent. The Fairfax County May unemployment rate is lower than Virginia's 4.1 percent rate, according to the latest local figures from the BLS.
Nationally, the leisure and hospitality industry added 343,000 positions in June in a sign that more Americans are ready to return to restaurants, bars, and vacation spots. Employment in the industry still has a long way to recover, with positions down 12.9 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
Locally, signs are posted in windows throughout Alexandria, Arlington, Springfield, and Tysons looking for help in restaurant kitchens and dining rooms. However, for every sign in a window, you also find a shuttered business with a "for rent" sign hanging to advertise the vacant space.
More than half of the claimants who filed for benefits last week (and the prior four weeks) reported being in these industries: accommodations/food service; administrative and waste services; retail; and health care and social assistance.
Lauren Axselle, part of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission team conducting a study into backlogged claims at the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), which is under a Labor Day deadline set by a federal judge to resolve more than 90,000 outstanding cases, the agency is still responding to only a “small portion” of calls by claimants who haven’t received their benefits.
President Joe Biden celebrated the overall jobs report, from a national standpoint, and said the country is rapidly recovering from the pandemic's economic damage.
"Instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, employers are competing with each other to attract workers," he said in a statement.