Virginia’s unemployment rate fell in March to 5.6 percent, its lowest
level in more than three years.
It was the fourth decline in as many months, and Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the Republican Party of Virginia trumpeted the news. Nationally in March, the jobless rate was 8.2 percent.
“Falling Unemployment Shows ‘Bob’s for Jobs!’ ” read the headline on a GOP news release, reprising McDonnell’s 2009 campaign slogan.
But despite the dip in unemployment, there was no job growth during that period, the independent Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis cautioned.
The reasons for that could be many, including the fact that jobs and unemployment figures are based on separate surveys, one of employers and one of workers, said Michael Cassidy, president of the Commonwealth Institute. It also could be an indication that some people have given up looking for work so they would no longer be counted as unemployed.
Whatever the reason, the number of jobs in the state remained about 3.71 million from February to March, even as the unemployment rate ticked down, Cassidy said.
“The drop in unemployment is welcome news, but the fact that there were no new jobs created last month sends a cautionary signal about the strength of the recovery,” Cassidy said.
Unemployment in Virginia was at 7.3 percent when McDonnell took office in January 2010. Now the state has the third-lowest unemployment rate east of the Mississippi.
McDonnell called the drop in the unemployment rate “a bipartisan accomplishment.” He gave special credit to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who hopes to succeed the term-limited governor and faces a tough GOP primary battle against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II.
“We’ve been focused on one thing since taking office: getting Virginians back to work and our economy back on track,” McDonnell said in a prepared statement. “Through the great leadership of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Virginia’s chief jobs creation officer, and Democratic and Republican legislators, we have put in place policies that help private-sector job creators innovate and grow. And we have focused on keeping taxation, litigation and regulation to a minimum, so job creators can keep more of their hard-earned capital to employ more Virginians and expand their operations, without government getting in their way. That formula is working.”