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June 18, 2013

Jobs Are Still in the Red

Recent dips in Virginia’s unemployment rate and increases in state revenue have some people thinking we are out of the woods of the recession. Think again.

Most areas of Virginia still have far fewer jobs than at the start of the recession five years ago. Three out of every four of Virginia’s cities and counties have fewer jobs today than in the first quarter of 2008.

Many of the areas that were hardest hit and still struggling are in Virginia’s Southside region, far from the headline-grabbing economic engine of Northern Virginia. Henry County, due south of Roanoke and on the border with North Carolina, is down 2,900 jobs. That’s one out of every eight jobs it had before the recession. Nearby Grayson County is down 800 jobs, also one out of every eight. Other areas of Virginia have also seen big losses – Lexington is down one out of every eight jobs it had before the recession, and Richmond County on Virginia’s Northern Neck is down one out of every seven.

Improvements in state revenue and statewide employment are welcome, but most of Virginia’s communities are still fighting their way back to the surface after the Great Recession. Lawmakers must consider the needs of these still-struggling areas so they have support for public education, job training, and other help they need to climb out of the hole created by the recession and build for the future.

Levi Goren

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