Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this morning following news that Virginia's unemployment rate has declined for the fourth straight month. The unemployment rate for the month of March was 5.6%. That is the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia in over 3 years, and a decline from 5.7% in February. Virginia has the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast, and the third-lowest unemployment rate east of the Mississippi River. The national unemployment rate for March was 8.2%.
"Virginia is growing strong again. Today we received word that the state unemployment rate has now declined for the fourth straight month. At 5.6% our unemployment rate is far below the national unemployment rate of 8.2%. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeastern United States. And we have fallen far below the 7.3% unemployment rate we inherited when taking office in January 2010. All of this means: more Virginians are working today. That is a good thing. It is a bipartisan accomplishment.
We've been focused on one thing since taking office: getting Virginians back to work and our economy back on track. 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.
CNBC and Pollina have both named Virginia the best state in America for business. Last year state agricultural exports hit a record high. Virginia soybeans have been shipped to China; Virginia cows have been sent to Russia and Canada. Our wine industry is growing. Steven Spielberg filmed "Lincoln" right outside my office window. And employers keep choosing Virginia as their home. Fairfax County has welcomed Bechtel Corporation and Northrop Grumman. Pulaski County has welcomed Phoenix Packaging Operations. Galax has welcomed Albany Industries. Henry County has welcomed Laminate Technologies. And in Mecklenburg County, Microsoft has made the largest economic development investment in the history of Southern Virginia. These successes are being replicated all across the Commonwealth. Virginia is wide open for business.
Now, we must keep this positive momentum going. Virginia's economy is recovering, but it is still early. Too many Virginians still need good jobs. Our work isn't through until they are working again. This afternoon, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and I will visit Shenandoah Growers in Harrisonburg as part of our ongoing "Year of the Entrepreneur" in the Commonwealth. We're going to meet with CEO and President Timothy Heydon and employees, tour the operation, and hear directly from them what Richmond should, and should not, do in order to ensure that this Virginia business can continue to grow and create more good paying jobs for hard working Virginians. I look forward to this visit. And I look forward to continuing to work with Democrats, Republicans, job-creators, and all Virginians to continue to grow our economy and build a true 'Commonwealth of Opportunity' for all our citizens."