RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia's unemployment rate fell slightly in October after three months of increases as the state added jobs and more people reported working.
The U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October was 6.4 percent. That's down from 6.5 percent in September and 6.7 percent a year ago.
The rate had been decreasing since peaking at 7.2 percent from December 2009 to February 2010, but rose slightly from July through September this year.
"I think it's good," said Ann Lang, a senior economist with the Virginia Employment Commission. "The rate at least is down slightly but still down. I think it's encouraging, but it's just an uncertain time, so that is a factor."
Virginia's rate is still below the national average, which fell slightly to 9 percent in October.
Unemployment rates fell in three-quarters of U.S. states last month, a sign that many parts of the country are experiencing modest job gains.
Nationwide, employers added a modest 80,000 net jobs last month. The previous two months were revised to show much stronger gains.
Still, at least 125,000 jobs a month are needed to keep up with population growth, and at least double that amount to rapidly reduce the unemployment rate.
Virginia's unadjusted unemployment rate, which is not adjusted for seasonal employment, decreased to 6 percent in October, below the rate last month and a year ago. The unadjusted unemployment rate usually declines in October, with the employment buildup in public and private schools and colleges, the state agency said.
The state's nonfarm payroll employment increased by 26,900 jobs in October. Increases were seen in total government, private education and health services, trade and transportation, construction, finance, manufacturing, and mining.
The professional and business services sector in Virginia saw job gains after three months of declines.
State officials said 54,123 Virginians were receiving regular unemployment benefits in October, up from 52,137 in September and down from 64,541 in October 2010.
Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.
- Virginia Employment Commission