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July 23, 2013

Virginia Inches Forward on Jobs, But the Goal Remains Out of Reach

Virginia has 12,900 more jobs in the second quarter of 2013 than in the first quarter, according to seasonally adjusted data released on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s good news – but not good enough.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2007 – just before the recession hit Virginia – the state is down just 5,200 jobs, and that means we are closing the gap between the jobs lost during the recession and the state’s pre-recession employment levels.

But the population grew faster than the number of jobs. Just to keep up, we needed 14,300 jobs for the quarter. That’s bad news, and it means that the goal we’re aiming for – a closer ratio of jobs to population – pulled further away.

This has been the trend since the recession started. In fact, to keep up with the growth in the population since the recession began, Virginia needs 309,500 jobs. When we look at the slow trickle of jobs Virginia is adding compared to how many jobs the state needs, at the current rate Virginians likely will never see as robust a job market as before the recession.


The hardest-hit industries in Virginia continue to be manufacturing and construction, which together have 94,000 fewer jobs than before the recession. The trade, transportation, and utilities industry has also been hard-hit, although the losses in that sector are smaller. By contrast, Virginia’s other industries, especially the education and health sector and professional and business services, have seen employment growth since the recession began.

The uneven impact of the recession on employment in Virginia means that while some workers and families may feel like everything is back to normal, others are faced with few job prospects and lots of competition for every opening. As the state  slowly inches forward, these latest number are a reminder that we have far to go, and lawmakers need to  invest in the basic building blocks of a strong and resilient economy – schools, transportation, health care – for the long term.

–Laura Goren, Policy Analyst

The Commonwealth Institute

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