Job #s

In the regular cycle of reoccurring news reports, we often encounter a segment describing the number of jobs added in the US over the past month.  This measure is understood to be a current indicator of the health of the broader economy.  For August 2018, the most recent data available, payroll employment increased by 201,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects this data each month from a sample of establishments through the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. The CES survey includes about 149,000 businesses and government agencies, which cover approximately 651,000 individual worksites. This represents a statistically valid sampling of employers and allows a reasonably accurate and timely estimate of job creation.

More locally, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce has compiled the Chamber Jobs Report for the past fifteen years. The chamber has just released its 2018 report, which covers data from the calendar year 2017. The data for this report does not come from a survey, but from the Virginia Employment Commission, which tracks workers covered by unemployment insurance through its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program (QCEW). One might assume this data is more accurate as it is an actual count versus a survey, but it too has shortcomings. Most notably, it misses those who are self-employed, as they are not covered under state unemployment insurance programs. Another limitation is the timeliness of the information as the QCEW is published annually, six months following the end of the calendar year. On the plus side, and unlike the CES, this data is collected and published at the municipal level, which is useful for cities like ours when looking at trends in job creation and employment.

So let’s take a look and see how the city is doing. In 2017, the city added 107 net new jobs to total employment marking the sixth straight year with a net increase in jobs.  This continues a trend of job growth in the city totaling 3,944 jobs over the past 5-year period. This is more than any other locality in our region, except Albemarle County (which is 72 times larger!), over the same time period.  The 10-year trend is also impressive in terms of job growth in the city with 9% growth occurring from 2007 to 2017. This reverses a trend of declining job numbers in previous recent decades.

Within the ten square miles of the city, there are now 39,408 jobs. This is the highest number recorded for the city in the history of the Chamber Jobs Report, and, we believe the highest number ever for the city.

Now, let’s look outside the MSA and compare Charlottesville to some of its Virginia peer cities. In looking at Harrisonburg, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg and Roanoke, the City of Charlottesville gained 3 times more jobs than all four of the other cities combined over the most recent 5-year period!  Of those, Lynchburg was the nearest with 2% growth over the period while Charlottesville experienced 11% growth. While I readily admit my pro-Charlottesville bias, those are impressive numbers.

Thank you to the Chamber for regularly drawing our attention to the issue of local job creation through the Jobs Report; as I think we can all agree that employment opportunities are critical to a healthy and vibrant community.

-Chris Engel, Director

OED Updates:

  • Our office, along with local company Storyware, helped six local breweries to launch the Charlottesville Ale Trail this month. It is the premier urban and pedestrian ale trail in Virginia. The trail was formed to promote the vibrant, collaborative and growing beer industry within the City of Charlottesville. The aim is to encourage locals and tourists to walk the trail throughout the city and support other businesses in the area as well.
  • Join us on November 13th at Common House at 5:30 for our next Go Connect event. GO Connect is networking reimagined. Filled with tailored value, creative talks, innovative environments and tons of aha moments. We’re creating actionable opportunities for businesses, professionals and those who aspire to be anywhere in-between.