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Virginia jobless rate falls

Published 11:15pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

Unemployment in Virginia fell to its lowest rate last month since December 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The commonwealth’s November jobless rate was 5.6 percent, equaling that of March, April and May of this year.

Virginia has the lowest rate of unemployment in the Southeast, tying with New Hampshire for the second-lowest jobless rate east of the Mississippi River, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office noted in a news release.

In the first full month of McDonnell’s tenure, February 2010, unemployment in Virginia stood at 7.2 percent. Since then, Virginia has added 150,500 net new jobs, the nation’s eighth-highest amount in that period.

“Working together across party lines, we are creating an environment in Virginia in which the private sector can grow and create new, good paying jobs for our citizens,” McDonnell stated in the release.

Early bureau data put Suffolk’s unemployment rate at 6.4 percent in October, slightly better than September’s official rate of 6.6 percent and markedly lower than 7.2 percent in October 2011.

For the Hampton Roads region, unemployment was at 6.1 percent in October, against 6.9 percent for the same month in 2011. November figures for Hampton Roads and the city of Suffolk are due for release on Jan. 8, a bureau spokesman said.

McDonnell says his administration has made job creation a focus “since we took office, and (it) will remain our focus until our last day in Richmond.”

McDonnell’s office described the administration’s job-creation formula, which includes “getting the state’s fiscal house in order (and) turning two budget shortfalls totaling $6 billion into three straight budget surpluses totaling $1.4 billion.

“We did that without raising taxes. At the same time, we have invested wisely in the core functions of government critical to job creation.”

More new funding has been injected into transportation than in a generation, McDonnell claims, and new resources have also gone into higher education, “leading to the lowest average yearly tuition increase at Virginia’s colleges and universities in a generation, and adding more slots at our schools for in-state students.”

The K-12 system has been “strengthened and improved,” McDonnell continued, while the administration has “aggressively and proactively” reeled in businesses looking to relocate or expand.

“This work, done by Republicans and Democrats, leaders in Richmond and in our counties and cities, is getting results,” McDonnell stated.

“More Virginians are back at work. Unemployment is falling. Virginia is leading the nation and demonstrating how smart public policy can help the private sector grow and get our economy back on track.”

Too many Virginians remain out of work, however, and “our work will not be done until there is good work available for all Virginians, in every city and county in the commonwealth.”

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