Virginia's unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the month of March, according to data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the lowest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth since December 2008. Virginia has the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast, and the second-lowest unemployment rate east of the Mississippi River. The unemployment rate was 7.2% in February 2010, the first full month of the McDonnell Administration. Since Governor McDonnell took office, Virginia has added 147,000 net new jobs. The governor is currently in China as part of a job creation and economic development mission to California, China and Japan. Previous trade missions resulted in more than half a billion dollars in capital investment in the Commonwealth, 1,397 Virginia jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new agricultural exports.
Following release of the new unemployment data, Governor McDonnell issued the following statement.
"Getting people back to work has been the focus of our administration and by working together, we are getting results. Over the last few years the private sector in Virginia has created more jobs and more opportunity for our citizens, and today's announcement shows that we are continuing to make progress. We have improved the fiscal health of the state, invested in core functions of government and aggressively recruited businesses and entrepreneurs to do business in Virginia. This year, we put in place a lasting fix to our transportation funding system that will make Virginia a better place to live and to do business for years to come.
Our efforts to create new jobs in Virginia don't stop at the state line. That is why this evening I am in Ningbo, China, seeking to open new markets for Virginia goods and to strengthen existing relationships with companies that do business in Virginia. Increased foreign trade and relationships equals more jobs for Virginians. For example, on Monday, I met with General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Vice Minister Wei Chuanzhong to discuss lifting the current Chinese ban on importing poultry products from Virginia. The poultry industry employs more than 10,000 people in Virginia and opening up new markets for export would help create more jobs here in the Commonwealth. We are also meeting with business, trade, manufacturing executives and others, telling the Virginia story and explaining why Virginia is the best place in the country to do business. Today's jobs report is encouraging for Virginia and shows the significant progress we have made through working together, across party lines, to get our economy back on track and Virginians back to work. We have much work left to be done before all Virginians can find the good paying jobs they need and deserve in the cities and counties that they call home, and we will continue to do everything we can to make Virginia the best place in the world in which to work and live."