Prince William leads Virginia in job growth; wages also rise

July 9, 2013

Prince William County had the largest percentage employment gain of any large locality in Virginia last year, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last month.

At the end of last year, the county had employed 115,900 people within the jurisdiction, a 3.4 percent increase, according to the data.

“It’s obviously good news, number one in job growth again,” Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said. “Prince William is an up-and-coming place.”

Weekly wages in Prince William increased 2.1 percent, to $863, at the lower end for Northern Virginia.

Stewart said he was pleased that wages were rising, indicating higher-paying jobs. He said that the county should focus on building infrastructure.

“My plan [is] to continue to focus in on the fundamentals, building schools and building roads and other public infrastructure. That’s the best thing the government can do,” he said.

Prince William’s unemployment rate is down from 5.1 percent to 4.3 percent this year, county spokesman Jason Grant said.

“You’re seeing home prices go up . . . and you’re seeing the unemployment rate down and the number of businesses up,” he said. “It’s becoming a story of Prince William County as a strong economic location.”

Prince William tends to have more retail and service jobs, skewing wages lower, officials said. Those jobs follow population growth, said Jeffrey Kaczmarek, the county’s economic development director. Prince William is one of the fastest-growing localities in the country.

Kaczmarek said he and his department work to attract higher-end jobs in three key sectors: IT, life sciences, including health care, and federal employers. The county and developer SunCal have made a bid for the sought-after relocation of the FBI headquarters to eastern Prince William.

Kaczmarek said his department is looking at its marketing efforts and reassessing whether there are different business sectors or sub-sectors that the county should seek to attract. He hopes to present a report to the supervisors in the fall.

In the meantime, he and his staff members reach out to key industry personnel, attend industry conferences and schedule meetings with business executives to market Prince William, he said.

Prince William has long sought to attract those kinds of jobs to transform its image as a bedroom community for jobs closer to the District.

“The workforce is here. . . . And we continue to work with businesses to locate around a centralized workforce,” Grant said.

The national job growth rate rose 1.9 percent and average weekly wages were $1,000 in the last quarter of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the region, Loudoun County’s employment rate rose 3.2 percent, and average weekly wages rose 2.7 percent, to $1,171 last year.

Arlington County had the highest wage-earners in Northern Virginia, with an average of $1,625 per week last year. Employees in the District made an average of $1,703, and jobs in the District increased 1.7 percent, to 721,500.

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