Local Economy Highlights

Employment Center

As of January 2022, the number of jobs in the City of Williamsburg was 11,318 with accommodation and food services being the largest industry. The City continues to be a regional employment center, with more than 11,000 in-commuters.


As of January 2021, the Williamsburg area (City of Williamsburg, James City County, and York County) civilian labor force was 75,653 and the area unemployment rate was 6.45%. 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, 51.5% have a bachelor's degree or higher which compares with 31.2% 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 700 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 $729.97 million in visitor spending in Greater Williamsburg for 2020, $445.71 million of which was spent in the City of Williamsburg. 

The major tourist attraction Colonial Williamsburg sold 533,700 tickets in 2019. In the fall of 2020, the renowned College of William and Mary enrolled approximately 6,236 students who provide creativity, energy, and intelligence to our vibrant City.

The figures below represent the City of Williamsburg in addition to York and James City Counties.

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

CategoryAmount in 2020 Change from 2019
Local Tax Receipts$39.73 Million-35.13
State Tax Receipts$21.81 Million-41.72
Tourism Employment7,786-37.79
Tourism Expenditures$729.97 Million-41.39
Tourism Payroll$260.71 Million-27.79

It is important to note that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 greatly affected the year's tourism economic impact. 

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

CategoryAmount in 2018Amount in 2019/Change from 2018
Local Tax Receipts$60.06 Million$61.25 Million/+1.94
State Tax Receipts$36.63 Million$37.42 Million/+2.16
Tourism Employment12,96512,516/-3.46
Tourism Expenditures$1.22 Billion$1.24 Billion/+1.64 
Tourism Payroll$355.53 Million$361.04 Million/+1.55

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