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Recession Recovery Doesn't Look the Same Across Virginia

MBandman / Creative Commons

The recession ended nearly a decade ago, and jobs are returning to Virginia. But, the recovery from this last recession is unlike what happened after previous recessions.

After the 1990 recession and the 2000 recession, jobs returned and the economy rebounded. But something different happened after this most recent recession. Jobs returned to urban parts of the state. But in rural parts of the state, job markets stagnated or even shrank.

Laura Goren at the Commonwealth Institute says a number of factors are driving disparities between urban and rural parts of Virginia.

“This includes larger trends like urbanization and the dwindling of the coal industry employment as there’s been a shift to more capital intensive, more machinery and less labor.”

Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says the growing disparity between urban and rural is creating a tale of two Virginias.

“One sort of poor and not doing well and not having a bright future. And two parts, southern Virginia and Northern Virginia, that are doing very well.”

Since 1990, according to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, urban parts of the state have added 900,000 jobs. But rural parts of Virginia added only 500 jobs — virtually no job growth in rural Virginia for the last 30 years.

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.