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New Federal Data Shows Job Growth Varies Across Virginia

Federal data shows job growth in Virginia is uneven. One part of the Commonwealth is doing particularly well.

The Shenandoah Valley is seeing a jobs boom. That’s according to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Winchester is seeing the largest growth; almost 5% growth in employment over the last year. Staunton and Harrisonburg also posted some of the strongest numbers across Virginia.

"I've spoken to at least five manufactures who have had their best year ever," says Cynthia Schneider at the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's because of product innovation during the COVID-19 situation," explains Schneider. "You saw people having to look at how they ran their businesses with new eyes and from a new perspective, and it encouraged new innovation and new product lines."

Early in the pandemic, manufacturing took a hit. Michael Farren at George Mason University's Mercatus Center says what we’re seeing now is a reaction to that.

"People actually had more money to spend on goods because they weren't able to spend it on other forms of entertainment or travel," says Farren. "So manufacturing actually made the wrong bet. They guessed the wrong direction, and has been trying to catch up since then."

On the other end of the spectrum is Lynchburg, which saw zero percent job growth over the last year. And Richmond saw only 1% growth.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.