It was announced on Friday by the Virginia Employment Commission that the state’s unemployment rate declined in December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.5%, representing the lowest unemployment figure in four years.
December became the third consecutive month that the jobless rate declined, with job increases throughout Virginia in manufacturing and the financial sector. Some sectors, however, took on job losses: trade, transportation, and leisure; hospitality; and professional and business services.
Of course, Gov. Bob McDonnell stressed that the declining jobless numbers equate to more families in Virginia with financial security and continued business growth. The reason according to Bob McDonnell: conservative fiscal policies and Virginia’s “pro-business climate.”
While it’s difficult to argue against Virginia being a good state to start a business, many conservatives and libertarians alike act as if these two factors (a pro-business climate and conservative fiscal policies) are the only driving forces behind a growing economy. Just as the myth of so-called trickle-down economics was inflated and wrong, so too are the myths of fiscal conservatism and pro-business policies as the keys to economic growth.
Instead, THE KEY to economic growth is fundamentally education, education, and more education. How can an advanced economy grow and continue to grow if the workforce that the economy depends upon doesn’t have the requisite skill-set? An advanced economy without an educated workforce will be left stagnant.
And more often than not, government spending in the sphere of education is necessary in order to guarantee an education for a large segment of the population.
But there is another crucial point worth noting. Oftentimes when Virginia’s politicians talk about Virginia’s successful economic growth, they talk as if Virginia doesn’t receive help from other levels of government (i.e., the federal government). Like it or not, Virginia, like the individual, cannot achieve success solely on its own. Sometimes, we all need a little help.
So the idea that Virginia is an island unto itself that has achieved impressive economic growth in the face of an economic recession is, at best, a dangerous myth. Virginia has not acted alone to achieve a 5.5% unemployment rate. It has (gasp!) received help and that’s not such a bad thing.