Obama, Gov. McDonnell both take credit for growth in Virginia jobs

With the deficit so high, the government will need to borrow 41 cents of every dollar it spends. So, what can 1.47 trillion get you ?

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By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2010

RICHMOND -- First, President Obama credited his federal stimulus package with producing 73,000 jobs in Virginia.

Then, one day later, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced that he had helped create 71,500 jobs in Virginia since taking office -- in part because of the strong economic climate he had fostered.

Although Obama and McDonnell referred to different numbers, experts agree that there must be overlap.

"It's really impossible to allocate jobs to this policy or that policy," said William M. Shobe, director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. "Everyone is taking credit, and nobody can prove that it's not true."

As the economy gradually begins to turn around, politicians everywhere are clamoring to show that they are responsible for whatever gains have been made.

Obama (D) has made turning the economy around a top priority, and his reelection will hinge largely on his success or failure. McDonnell (R), barred from running for a second consecutive term, has dubbed himself a jobs governor as he hopes to solidify his legacy as a leader who returned jobs to the state.

Obama announced July 14 that the stimulus has saved or created 73,000 jobs in Virginia, calculated using a Council of Economic Advisers formula based on historical estimates and state data, such as population and stimulus dollars received.

The council did not determine which industry most benefited from the jobs, but the head of the council, Christina Romer, estimated that some would probably be in the areas of manufacturing, clean energy, education and construction.

Romer said that Virginia is adding jobs at a "good pace" and that the Recovery Act is "playing a crucial role in getting the economy going."

McDonnell announced the next day that Virginia had added 71,500 jobs over four months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which surveyed payrolls between Feb. 1 and May 31. It was the third-highest number in the country, behind Texas and Pennsylvania, during that time period.

Industries with the most growth were hospitality, the federal government, and professional and business services.

"Something good is happening in Virginia," said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), whom McDonnell appointed his chief jobs-creation officer. "We're making good choices. We're making smart decisions, and if we continue doing that . . . we are very optimistic we can continue to see progress."


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