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 93% of the population 18 years and older hold a high school diploma or GED. Moreover, of individuals 25 to 64, over 50% have a bachelor's degree or higher which compares with 33.7% in the nation.

Tourism & Education

The City of Williamsburg's economy is largely supported by tourism and education, with two world-class institutions, the William & 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 $30.3 billion in direct visitor spending in the state for 2022. Locality reports for 2022 will be available in September of 2023.  

The major tourist attraction Colonial Williamsburg sold 533,700 tickets in 2019. In the fall of 2022, the renowned William & Mary enrolled approximately 9,517 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 2021% Change from 2020
Local Tax Receipts$53.7 Million+35.16
State Tax Receipts$32.9 Million+50.85
Tourism Employment8,945+14.89
Tourism Expenditures$1.147 Billion+57.13
Tourism Payroll$333.4 Million+27.88

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 2019Amount in 2020/% Change from 2019
Local Tax Receipts$61.25 Million$39.73Million/-35.13
State Tax Receipts$37.42 Million$21.81 Million/-41.72
Tourism Employment12,5167,786/-37.79
Tourism Expenditures$1.24 Billion$729.97 Million/-41.39
Tourism Payroll$361.04 Million$260.71 Million/-27.79

Shopping, Dining & Cultural Center

Per capita annual retail sales in the City are among the highest in Virginia ($20,698 per capita as of 2017). 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. 

Per Capita Retail Sales as of 2017

United States$15,224
James City County$9,934
York County$14,103


  • JobsEQ
  • Travel Industry Association
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Virginia Department of Taxation
  • Virginia Employment Commission
  • Virginia Labor Market Information
  • Virginia Tourism Corporation