Originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on May 13, 2013.
The unemployment rate in the Richmond metro area drifted down to 5.6 percent in March.
While that rate is better than the national average of 7.6 percent, the local economy has a way to go before it is fully recovered from the recession.
Employment in the Richmond metro area stood at 628,800 in March — still about 6,600 jobs below the peak of 635,400 jobs in August 2007.
Based on the pace of employment growth in the region during the past year, we should exceed that peak before the end of the year. That job recovery is better than the for nation, which isn’t expected to reach the previous employment peak until July 2014 based on recent growth.
The prolonged recovery from the recession means new college graduates will again face a tight labor market.
Their ability to find a job, however, will vary greatly based on the knowledge and skills they acquired in high school or college.
New graduates hoping to work for professional business services firms might have a hard time finding jobs because those industries are still contracting in the Richmond metro area. For instance, two of the region’s largest law firms reduced employment over the past year, according to the Top 50 list of the area’s largest private employers.
Prospects are much better for new graduates with skills needed in the health care sector.
A little more than 1,600 new health care jobs were added to the metro area during the year ending in March, according to estimates from Chmura Economics & Analytics. Eight of the employers on the Top 50 list are health care related.
Looking ahead, Chmura Economics & Analytics is forecasting a need for an average 2,600 health care workers a year during the next decade in the Richmond metro area.
Of that amount, about 1,000 health care workers are needed annually to fill positions from which people have retired or moved to new occupations.
Even construction is looking promising again. This sector added 1,645 jobs in the Richmond region in the 12 months ending in March, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
Along with a moderate amount of on-the-job training, cabinetmakers or drywall installers can make an average of about $30,000 in the region, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average wage of electricians in the Richmond area, which typically requires an apprenticeship, is about $46,000.
Based on our forecasts, next year’s college graduates will see further improvements in the jobs market.
And those students who choose a career path linked to jobs that are in demand by regional businesses will clearly have better prospects upon graduation.
~Reduces Prices at the Pump While Providing Virginia's First New Dedicated, Sustainable Revenue for Transportation in 27 Years~
~At Signing, Governor Announces New Chmura Economics Report Finding New Spending on Construction Will Annually Sustain 13,058 Jobs and Have $9.5 Billion in Economic Impact~
***McDonnell: "This may technically be transportation legislation, but at the end of the day, it's a jobs bill."***
RICHMOND - Today, surrounded by legislators and community and transportation leaders from across the Commonwealth, Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed Virginia's Road to the Future (HB 2313), the state's first comprehensive transportation funding plan approved in 27 years. Following on the heels of nearly three decades of inaction on the critical challenges facing transportation funding in Virginia, this historic bi-partisan legislation supported by Republicans and Democrats from each chamber will provide more than $3.4 billion in additional statewide transportation funding, more than $1.5 billion in additional funding for Northern Virginia, and more than $1 billion in additional funding for Hampton Roads, over the next five years alone.
"For 27 years our citizens have sat in traffic as congestion has increased and our bridges and roadways have deteriorated," said Governor McDonnell. "For 27 years our citizens and businesses have demanded solutions. For 27 years, Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly failed to reach an agreement on this critical issue. However, we stand here today, thanks to the leadership and support of Speaker Howell and a broad bi-partisan coalition of legislators, business leaders and citizens, to celebrate this historic achievement. Not only will this legislation address both the short and long-term funding needs of our transportation system, it will also annually sustain 13,058 new jobs, have more than $9.5 billion in economic impact, and improve Virginians' quality of life. Instead of sitting in traffic, our citizens will be able to spend more time with their families enjoying the many benefits this great Commonwealth has to offer. Most importantly, this legislation will ensure that Virginia's economy can grow in the years ahead, and that businesses will have the infrastructure they need to create the good-paying jobs Virginians deserve. This may technically be transportation legislation, but at the end of the day, it's a jobs bill.
"When we put forward our comprehensive transportation funding plan this year, we called for three fundamental changes to how Virginia funds transportation, all based on conservative fiscal policy. First, we called for a reduction or elimination of our dependence on an archaic, outdated gasoline tax in the decades ahead. Second, we called for tying future transportation funding to the far more sustainable sales tax. Third, we called for treating transportation like the true core function of government that it is, one essential to economic growth and job creation in our state. While the final bill was in some ways different than our original proposal, it met all three of the goals we established. The final product is the very essence of compromise in that this legislation has components some will like, and components others may dislike. That's the nature of any true compromise. Our success demonstrates that both parties - be it here in the Commonwealth or up in Washington - can still achieve a great deal when partisan differences are put to the side and we work collaboratively toward the solutions our citizens demand. This bill is crucial to the future growth of Virginia's economy, and this is a great day for job-creation in the Commonwealth."
Over the first five years, HB 2313 will:
Additionally, in his remarks, the governor today announced the findings of recently completed economic impact analyses conducted by nationally renowned firm Chmura Economics. The first analysis, which focuses on new roadway construction spending as a result of HB 2313, determined that the additional funds in the Commonwealth Transportation Board's Six-Year Improvement Program will have an economic impact of $8.1 billion and annually sustain 10,133 jobs from FY 2014 through FY 2019. The second analysis, which focuses on new transit and rail spending, determined that the additional funding provided to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation will have an economic impact of more than $1.4 billion support 14,625 jobs, or 2,925 jobs per year, between FY 2014 and FY 2018. The new dedicated intercity passenger rail funding will enable Virginia to extend passenger rail service to Roanoke within the next four years.
"This year, Republicans and Democrats put their differences aside, sat down at the table and demonstrated to our citizens that unlike Washington we are able to work together to achieve the results they demand," said Speaker of the House Bill Howell. "I applaud Governor McDonnell for his leadership and willingness to tackle the difficult challenges facing Virginia, and I thank the broad bi-partisan group of legislators and stakeholders who made today possible."
Speaking about this historic legislation, Marty Nohe, Prince William County supervisor and chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority said, "Years of inaction in the General Assembly have resulted in Northern Virginia now being ranked as part of the most congested region in the United States. No other singular issue has as great an impact on our ability to attract and retain economic development opportunities and jobs. Now, with the passage of this historic compromise, the local governments in Northern Virginia will be able to work collaboratively to address our critical regional needs so that we can remain economically competitive and improve our citizens' quality of life."
"As home to one of the largest naval installations in the U.S. and the economically crucial Port of Virginia, the Hampton Roads' region has for years struggled with our unique transportation challenges," said Hampton Mayor Molly Ward, chair of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. "Our region's infrastructure needs are tremendous and with the inclusion of the Hampton Roads regional component, HB 2313 will finally provide us with the foundation to begin tackling these difficult challenges."
"Following on the heels of the 2011 bond package, Governor McDonnell made a promise to continue his successful efforts to address Virginia's transportation funding needs by putting in place dedicated, sustainable revenues for the long-term," said Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance Executive Vice President Jeff Southard. "This year the governor delivered. Not only will this legislation improve mobility, reduce congestion and promote further economic activity, but it will put in place the sustainability necessary to build upon and continue the progress Governor McDonnell has made over the past three years."
Following General Assembly approval of the governor's recommended amendments, HB 2313:
A final summary of the HB 2313 and the Chmura economic impact analyses can be found at:http://www.varoadtothefuture.com/.
The golden ticket for most economic development programs is job creation, and the more the better. For folks involved in workforce development, the perfect job would provide a sustaining wage for individuals and families. This ticket has been hard to come by for many communities as the nation’s economy limps forward, offering little in terms of opportunity for a large portion of job seekers in the middle. Chmura’s economists took a look at more than 800 occupations, analyzed employment growth and wage gains that occurred between 2001 and 2011, and identified a few trends that help us understand where the jobs are (and where they aren’t).
We broke occupations into ten groups based on employment and wages earned and analyzed each decile based on job and wage growth. The results demonstrate two troubling facts. First, wages have been mostly stagnant during the ten-year study period, with gains exceeding inflation for only occupations on the high end of the scale. Second, job growth has been mostly isolated to those jobs paying the least and those that pay the most.
Over the past ten years, employment growth has been negative for occupations in the middle and it’s a substantial middle, representing more than 60% of the total jobs and wages. The data suggest it’s one part of the explanation for the skills gap – those who lost jobs in the middle may be unwilling to accept a position that pays less than their previous job and unable (because of skills and experience shortfalls) to successfully compete for jobs at the higher end of the scale.
Chris Chmura joined a distinguished panel in Washington DC on Sunday, April 14th to kick off the International Economic Development Council’s Federal Economic Development Forum. The plenary session, entitled “Workforce Development: If You Train Them, Will They Come” set the stage for a lively discussion around the importance of workforce development, the ever-changing needs of business and industries, and how the federal agenda may help shape the intersection between the two.
Big on almost everyone’s mind was the topic of the nation’s skills gaps, broadly defined as the mismatch between the skills and qualifications of the labor force and employers workforce needs. Chris’ remarks offered a unique perspective and practical advice on how economic developers can better understand and harness the power of their regional workforce (and workforce systems) to improve their economic development outcomes.
Chris shared specific examples and data supporting the need to better align economic development and workforce development strategies. She also underscored the importance of developing a deeper understanding of regional labor markets and external market forces to point to new, unexplored opportunities or mitigate risks for communities.
Other notable panelists included Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Employment & Training Administration, who shared her view of economic development and workforce development as synonymous—the public workforce system role is to help people connect to jobs.
Mary Jo Waits, Director at the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices pointed out three best-practice models where businesses are successfully working together to drive change: the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Virginia, Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research, and Kentucky’s Automotive Technical Education Collaborative.
Karin Norington-Reaves, CEA of Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, spoke of the need for workforce investment boards to make a paradigm shift from social service delivery to business service delivery. She now has 7 employees in her new business relations and economic development group that are focusing on 40 occupations with the greatest needs.
Also on the panel was Peter Cappelli, with the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School. Mr Cappelli was not as confident a skills gap exists at all and called on employers to renew investment in training and skills transfer in their organizations.
The IEDC Federal Forum is an annual event providing opportunity for the economic development community to get educated and advocate for federal policies that will encourage and support economic growth. You can view Chris’s entire presentation here.
The Chmura team recently attended the 2013 National Association of Workforce Boards Forum held in Washington DC. The event was well-attended by both public and private sector organizations including workforce development agencies, their board leadership, key staff members and community partners such as economic developers, educators, businesses, and elected officials. This year’s big buzz was around businesses-critical and ever-changing need for talent. Workforce Investment Boards and others are talking, now more than ever, about their need to become more relevant to the business community. To accomplish that, thought leaders are placing a lot of emphasis on the importance of quality, insightful labor market data to shape the strategic direction for WIBs. Even more exciting was the conversation around the need to connect workforce planning with the larger regional goals of the communities.
This year’s theme “Dialogue for Workforce Excellence” got to the heart of the matter and the need for workforce development agencies to innovate and deliver relevant programs to support the needs of business and industry. One speaker built upon that by giving the audience a cautious reminder that “innovation has no value until a customer stands beside it.” The lunch speakers were characteristically amazing and included the inspirational Bill Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and the insightful Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup. Jim remarked that customers create jobs and not vice versa.
We met hundreds of passionate professionals, learned a lot and relished the opportunity to share our own labor marketing information solution, JobsEQ. Thanks to those who stopped and chatted with Chris Chmura and Leslie Peterson at our booth.
We hope you’ll take an opportunity to check out the NAWB Forum 2013 program site (post-conference material is available now) and leave you with the following ruminations.
We’ve got an incredible opportunity to get this one right and we’re committed to contributing to the solution.
The topic of sequestration is on everyone’s mind today and the nation’s legislators are faced with some tough decisions. Sequestration, by definition, refers to automatic across-the-board spending cuts that will take place if a budget deal isn’t cut by tomorrow.
While many state and local officials are putting pencil to paper to see how the cuts will affect them directly, it’s important to remember that the federal government spends more than $500 billion each year through contracts with private industry in the United States. These funds make their way into regional economies as the federal government procures goods and services, supporting businesses and jobs.
So which metro area economies are most dependent on revenues derived from contract work for the federal government? Which ones are most at-risk due to the impending budget cuts? We took a look at federal contract spending data and assigned it a metro geography based on where the awarded firm performed the work. Then we divided that amount by the total number of jobs in each region.
The interactive map below shows how federal contract dollars are concentrated in the nation’s 369 metro areas. At the top of the list is the Pascagoula, MS, a small metro area with businesses employing about 55,000 people. Pascagoula is home to naval shipbuilding giant Ingalls Shipbuilding, which was founded there on the banks of the Pascagoula River in 1938. Ingalls is one of Mississippi’s largest employers. Over the past three years, federal contract spending has averaged $3 billion a year in Pascagoula. That’s more than $54,000 federal dollars spent locally for each job in the metro area.
Will sequestration happen? That remains to be seen. It’s safe to say federal spending will be reduced in the future, perhaps with a bit more surgical precision than sequestration mandates. Regions should understand their exposure as it relates to these issues and be prepared to support businesses (and employees) who could be impacted.
You can download the full list here.
The Top 10 Metros Area by Federal Contract Concentration
Pascagoula, MS MSA
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA
Huntsville, AL MSA
Norwich-New London, CT MSA
Amarillo, TX MSA
Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, WA MSA
Idaho Falls, ID MSA
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA
Jacksonville, NC MSA
Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA MSA
Each of Ohio’s nine target industries added employment1 in 2012 and five
of the nine sectors posted job growth far stronger than Ohio’s overall job growth
of 1.8% during the year. Target industry job gains were led by Ohio’s BioHealth
sector, which mostly comprises pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing,
posting 14.1% year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Energy sector
also saw strong gains, due in large part to the development of Ohio’s shale gas
reserves. What is especially impressive about the job gains in the BioHealth and
Energy sectors is that these are two target industries where Ohio is only beginning
to develop a competitive cluster—as gauged by the state’s location quotient.
Q4-2011 - Q4-2012
Average Annual Wages
Ohio - BioHealth
Ohio - Energy
Ohio - Food Processing
Ohio - Information Technology and services
Ohio - Automotive
Ohio - Financial Services
Ohio - Advanced Manufacturing
Ohio - Polymers and Chemicals
Ohio - Aviation & Aerospace
Ohio - Total All Target Industries
Ohio - Total All Industries
Chmura’s economists have been working with local communities
for nearly a decade to understand the sources of their local competitiveness
and strengths of their key industrial clusters. Several techniques exist for
this type of analysis and one commonly utilized component is to examine an
area’s key clusters for missing links in the supply chain. Many times this
helps for marketing campaigns or economic gardening efforts in order to attract
firms or spur entrepreneurial activity to address these gaps and augment and
strengthen an existing industry cluster. In many cases, the search for supply
chain gaps utilizes national models of what an industry and its many
sub-industries have in common. Where additional data are available or can be
collected, an alternative methodology can be used for much greater specificity,
particularly when the local industry cluster has very specific suppliers or
itself is part of a very complex value-chain from start to finish. Always
looking to innovate, Chmura has produced a unique way to map the actual supply
chain of industry clusters utilizing cutting edge network analysis. The results
speak for themselves in an unprecedented, granular look at economic leakages,
supply chain gaps, and cluster synergies.
RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Commonwealth has reached a commercial and financial close with US 460 Mobility Partners (a partnership of Ferrovial Agroman, S.A. and American Infrastructure) and the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia to finance, design and build a new 55-mile section of U.S. Route 460 in southeastern Virginia. Project development begins immediately for the new $1.4 billion roadway, which has been a top transportation priority locally, regionally and statewide for nearly a decade. The project was developed to address roadway deficiencies, improve safety, accommodate increasing freight shipments and reduce travel delays among many other needs.
"As recognized by local officials and the General Assembly years ago, there is a clear and critical need for the new U.S. 460," said Governor McDonnell. "In 2000, the Virginia Transportation Act designated U.S. 460 as a high priority in southeastern Virginia. In 2003, the General Assembly passed a law requiring the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to build a new stretch of U.S. 460 under the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995. Legislative leaders supported the project because it would improve safety for motorists and connectivity for freight and military traffic among other benefits. Today, the Commonwealth is finally delivering on that need and building a project that will not only make transportation better for the southeastern region and the state, it will also generate jobs and economic development opportunities, bringing extensive long-term benefits in so many ways."
The key benefits of the new U.S. 460 include:
Roger Gonzalez of The News Virginian writes (original article):
More than $22 million was spent on agritourism in the Shenandoah Valley last year, according to a recent study, and that number could rise in the next decade.
“There is potential to grow the number of agritourism businesses, room to grow jobs and capture some more revenue,” Bonnie Riedesel, executive director of Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, said Thursday. “We knew that there was potential for it. We just didn’t have the numbers to back it up. Now we do.”
The planning district commission announced the news at the Fields of Gold Harvest Jubilee at Barren Ridge Vineyards. The event was named for the award-winning Fields of Gold program, which involves six Valley counties and five cities. It promotes the region as an agritourism destination, whether for visits to a working farm, a winery, a corn maze or a horse farm. It also seeks to create jobs on the farm and tourism jobs off.
In 2011, 226 businesses employed 704 people in agritourism locally, noted the study, done by Richmond-based consulting firm Chmura Economics & Analytics. And including multipliers, the $22.4 million spending figure rises to $34.8 million, and the employment number to 811 jobs.
Chmura estimates that about 6.7 million visitors traveled more than 50 miles to come to the region in 2010, and that that total tourism number could grow 6.2 percent in the next 10 years.
And, given that 15 percent of potential visitors surveyed said they would be very interested in agri- or ecotourism, the study said, such sales here could expand at a rate of 9.3 percent per year.
That delighted many in the crowd at Barren Ridge.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s No.1 industry,” said Matt Lohr, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, keynote speaker at the event. “I think what we are seeing is that agritourism and opportunities to have more direct marketing between the producers and consumers, it really is big business. As agriculture changes, and we have more of a society that wants to be connected, it certainly gives more and more opportunities for farmers to take advantage of. It’s exciting.”
Moving forward, the plan is to take advantage of the Fields of Gold statistics and implement a plan to try to realize the potential growth. Complete results of the study will be available at the planning district commission’s website, cspdc.org, early next week.
“We have some other grants out there that are pending,” Riedesel said. “Hopefully we can begin to market and carry this program forward.”
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