Local Economy Highlights

Employment Center

As of January 2019, the number of jobs in the City of Williamsburg was 13, 832 with accommodation and food services being the largest industry. During 2018 employment in the region increased by 3.6%. The City continues to be a regional employment center, with nearly 11,000 in-commuters.


As of January 2019, the Williamsburg area (City of Williamsburg, James City County, and York County) civilian labor force was 73,724 and the area unemployment rate was 4.6%. Due to Williamsburg's close proximity to major metropolitan areas in Hampton Roads and Richmond, a workforce of 1.3 million are within commuting distance of the City, and residents share a wide variety of occupational and career choices.

In the City of Williamsburg, over 95% of the population 18 years and older hold a high school diploma or GED. Moreover, of individuals 25 to 64, 52% have a bachelor's degree or higher which compares with 32.3% in the nation.

Tourism & Education

The City of Williamsburg's economy is largely supported by tourism and education, with two world-class institutions, the College of William and Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, at the core. The majority of the 800 business establishments within the City either fall into the retail trade or accommodation/food services category, which cater to the 6-8 million annual area visitors. 

The Virginia Tourism Corporation reports $1.3 billion in visitor spending in Greater Williamsburg for 2018, $612 million of which was spent in the City of Williamsburg. 1.1 million visitors came to the nearby I-64 East Coast Gateway Welcome Center.

The major tourist attraction Colonial Williamsburg sold 560,000 tickets in 2016. The renowned College of William and Mary educates approximately 8,600 students who provide creativity, energy, and intelligence to our vibrant City.

Tourism Economic Expenditures Report for Williamsburg (Source: Virginia Tourism Corporation)

CategoryAmount in 2018Change from 2019
Local Tax Receipts$51,893,500+10.2%
State Tax Receipts$61,278,761+2.2%
Tourism Employment12,114+51
Tourism Expenditures$1.3 Billion+3.7%
Tourism Payroll$253,052,602+2.8%

Figures represent the City of Williamsburg in addition to York and James City Counties.

Shopping, Dining & Cultural Center

Per capita annual retail sales in the City are among the highest in Virginia ($22,993 per capita as of 2012). Those who visit and work in Williamsburg support thriving commercial corridors and cultural offerings, giving our small city benefits often only found in much larger localities. Smithsonian Magazine has ranked Williamsburg among its Top Ten Small Towns to Visit (April 2014 Issue), based on its per capita cultural opportunities.

Per Capita Retail Sales as of 2012

United States$12,990
James City County$9,138
York County$13,370


  • JobsEQ
  • Travel Industry Association
  • Virginia Department of Taxation
  • Virginia Employment Commission
  • Virginia Labor Market Information
  • Virginia Tourism Corporation