Local Economy Highlights

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Employment Center

As of January 2018, the number of jobs in the City of Williamsburg was 13,988 with accommodation and foods services being the largest industry.  The City continues to be a regional employment center, with nearly 11,000 in-commuters.


As of January 2018, The Williamsburg area (City of Williamsburg, James City County, and York County) civilian labor force was 72,749 and the area unemployment rate was 4.0%.  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, 33% hold a Bachelor's, Graduate, or Professional degree, which is greater than the national average of 27%.

Tourism and 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 $1.21 billion in visitor spending in Greater Williamsburg for 2016, 572 million of which was spent in Williamsburg. 1.15 million visitors 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 Wiliam 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)

Category Amount in 2016 Change from 2015
Tourism Expenditures $1.21 billion +2.6%
Tourism Payroll $237,002,110 +4.8%
Tourism Employment 11,945 +236
State Tax Receipts $58,554,078 +4.6%
Local Tax Receipts $46,925,538 +4.6%


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

Shopping, Dining, and 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:

Williamsburg $22,993
Virginia $13,438
United States $12,990
James City County $9,138
 York County  $13,370


Sources: Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Labor Market Information, Jobs EQ, Virginia Department of Taxation, Travel Industry Association, and the Virginia Employment Commission