Virginia hits highest labor force participation rate in a decade; Unemployment Decreases

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Work isn’t just about a paycheck. At its core, work is about freedom, accomplishment, respect, human dignity, and even companionship.  Work gives purpose and is essential to a thriving community, and thriving communities are essential to a thriving state.  That is why it is not surprising to see Gov. Youngkin focus so intently on creating a job-friendly economy.  In August of last year, the Governor announced and began implementing dramatic changes in the Commonwealth’s workforce development efforts.  Friday’s employment numbers for May show that his efforts are paying off.

The May data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Virginia is one of only eleven states reporting lower unemployment last month and one of only seventeen states showing lower unemployment over the last twelve months.  Equally as important, labor force participation rates went up — meaning people who had given up looking for work have re-entered the job market.  This is the highest rate in almost a decade.

Finally, and most impressively, over the last twelve months job growth occurred in ten of eleven industry sectors and in all ten metropolitan areas in Virginia (known as Metropolitan Statistical Areas or MSAs).  It is important to note that the Richmond MSA, which includes Petersburg, had the highest percentage gains in employment over the last year.  It would seem the Governor’s “Partnership for Petersburg,” where he has focused his administration on forty-two initiatives and public-private partnerships in this struggling community south of Richmond, is starting to show results.

The only red flags in the latest numbers are the continued increases in state government jobs and in industries dependent on the government like education.

Also, the decline in mining and logging was fairly substantial.

While the Thomas Jefferson Institute doesn’t espouse the idea that governments or Governors “create” jobs, we do believe that lower taxes, reduced regulations, and safe communities create the environment for businesses to be created and to grow.  This appears to be the Youngkin way.

With the budget still undecideda $3 billion-plus budget surplus on the tablegeneral revenue running well ahead of forecasts and a likely revenue-filled June yet to come — we hope the Governor can use these job numbers to convince the legislature to continue to cut taxes and regulations and to get more low tax members elected.

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