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Job Numbers Improve Overall, Despite Losses in Some Regions

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Virginia added nearly 40,000 jobs during the 12-month period that ended March 30. That 1.1 percent pace of growth is a little faster than the 1 percent U.S. rate for the same period. And Virginia’s growth is better than half the states in the nation.

While jobs are being created throughout Virginia, the growth varies among the state’s regions. The Lynchburg metropolitan area is the fastest growing in the state. The area expanded at a strong 5.3 percent pace and added more than 5,500 jobs during the 12-month period. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership identified 18 expansions in that region creating nearly 1,000 jobs since 2009. The type of firms varied from nuclear reactor design to a call center for insurance.

As usual, Northern Virginia created the largest number of jobs – 17,190 during the period, or a 0.8 percent increase. Of all the jobs created in the state, 43.8 percent of them were in Northern Virginia. The region’s ties to the federal government supported the growth as government employment, which makes up 18 percent of all jobs in the Washington metro area, increased by 3,225 workers during the period. The professional business services sector rose by 8,056 workers with many of the jobs dependent on federal contracts.
Growth in the region is already spilling over to support industries. Retailers added 4,672 workers in the 12-month period while leisure firms, such as movie theater operators and restaurateurs, increased employment by 3,946.

Yet three of the state’s 11 metropolitan areas saw employment declines in the 12-month period.

The largest loss was in Hampton Roads where the decline totaled 1,544 jobs followed by Roanoke (down 1,307), and Blacksburg (down 339). The Richmond metro area showed some signs of recovering with a net gain of 2,594 jobs, or a meager 0.4 percent gain. Similar to Northern Virginia, the professional business services sector in the Richmond region expanded by the largest amount -390 jobs.

In contrast, the finance, insurance, and real estate sector, which were hit hard by the recession, shed 2,723 jobs in the 12 months that ended March 30. Government agencies shrunk employment during that same period by 1,108 workers. Since 2009, 97 firms announced expansions in the Richmond are, totaling 6,576 jobs.

Downsizing and bankruptcies from firms such as Qimonda, LandAmerica, and Circuit City have continued to ripple through the economy. Retailers, for example, shed 1,241 jobs. Even though the Richmond area was hit hard during the recession, it has a favorable industry mix.

Based on our forecasts, its employment will expand by 72,366 over the next 10 years for an annual average gain of 1.2 percent – better than the 0.9 percent expected for the nation.

Reprinted with permission from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

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