Hampton Roads Lags Behind Other Metropolitan Areas in Employment Numbers

Aug 7, 2017

The Hampton Roads region, which includes Norfolk, is the only major metropolitan area in the country that saw a drop in employment rates last year.
Credit Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

Virginia’s major metropolitan areas are thriving, and unemployment is down across the Commonwealth; but there’s one part of Virginia that’s struggling more than others. 

Hampton Roads is the only major metropolitan area in the country that has seen a drop in employment over the last year. New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the region lost about 900 jobs over the last year. That’s a 0.1 percent decline. Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says it’s a sign of the region’s over reliance on federal spending.

“Hampton Roads’ economy is narrowly, probably too narrowly, tailored to federal defense spending in the shipping industry. And so when there’s a slowdown in federal defense spending under sequestration it hits the Hampton Roads economy harder.”

Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says the region is being hit by a series of converging forces.

“Most of the layoffs seem to be in the ship repair yards as opposed to places that might be building new ships. The other big change that’s coming with the Defense Department appears to be the decline in home porting of ships in that region.”

Congress has been talking about increasing defense spending, which could theoretically help the region. But that’s only after they get around to addressing the debt ceiling and agreeing on a budget resolution.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association