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Virginia’s unemployment rate ranks lowest among Southeast states; Commonwealth posts 55 consecutive months of over-the-year employment growth

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Governor Ralph Northam announces that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady in October at 2.9 percent.

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady in October at 2.9 percent. The October 2018 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Virginia was down 0.7 percentage point from a year ago and continued to be the lowest rate since the June 2007 rate of 2.9 percent. In October, the labor force expanded by 494, as the number of unemployed dropped by 1,679 and household employment increased by 2,173. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged at 3.7 percent.

“Today’s announcement is a clear sign that the work we are doing to increase Virginia’s economic competitiveness is paying off, and I am pleased to see our historically low unemployment rate hold steady,” said Governor Northam. “With the recent announcement that Amazon will locate a significant new headquarters in Virginia, we will continue to further diversify our economy, boost critical investments in education, and enhance our transportation infrastructure—all of which will help drive growth in every part of the Commonwealth.”

Virginia has the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among the Southeast states. Virginia has the third best rate among the states east of the Mississippi. Virginia is ranked ninth in the nation for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.

“We are very proud that Virginia continues to have one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, but we will remain steadfast in our efforts to continue creating quality, wage-sustaining jobs across every part of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball.

“The low unemployment rate is an indicator of a thriving economy where Virginians are working,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “Even though we celebrate these great numbers, there is still work to be done by filling our current vacancies and finding successful, career pathways for all Virginians.”

Virginia’s nonfarm payroll employment is 71,400 jobs higher when compared to October of 2017. Over-the-year employment growth in Virginia has been positive for 55 consecutive months and has continued to strengthen over the last several months. For October, Virginia’s over-the-year growth of 1.8 percent was the same as the national rate.

In October, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 90,200 jobs, while employment in the public sector declined by 18,800 jobs. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains, while the other two experienced employment losses.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at www.vec.virginia.gov.

State News

Virginia Department of Taxation to begin processing individual income tax returns

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation that conforms Virginia’s tax laws to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and lets the Virginia Department of Taxation begin processing individual income tax returns.

“I am proud that we were able to work together to give Virginians the clarity they deserve during tax season,” said Governor Northam. “Now, because of this important compromise, Virginia taxpayers can properly prepare and file their taxes and our state personnel can start processing tax returns.”

“We are pleased that this bipartisan legislation provides certainty for taxpayers as they file their 2018 individual income tax returns,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “Most importantly, with the Governor’s signature on this legislation, the Virginia Department of Taxation can start processing 2018 individual income tax returns for people in the Commonwealth.”

“We are now preparing our systems to begin processing those 2018 returns,” said Tax Commissioner Craig M. Burns. “We do process them in the order we receive them and, as you may expect, we already have a significant backlog, so you may experience slower turnaround times for refunds than in years past.”

Once your return is processed, you can check the status of your refund by using the Where’s My Refund application on the Department of Taxation website. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Additional information can be found at www.tax.virginia.gov.

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January 2019 General Fund Revenue Collections Up 0.4% From Previous Year

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RICHMOND—Governor Northam announced that January General Fund revenues rose 0.4 percent from the previous January. Although collections are lagging the annual estimate, growth is expected to be higher in the second half of the fiscal year due to effects of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the timing of payments for individual and corporate income taxes.

“I am pleased to see continued positive revenue performance in January, demonstrating that Virginia’s economy is strong and putting the Commonwealth in a solid position for additional growth,” said Governor Northam. “We expect to see revenues increase further in the second half of the fiscal year, and my team will remain focused on implementing strategies to invest in our workforce, diversify our economic base, and build upon this momentum.”

January is a significant month for revenue collections. Besides the normal monthly payroll withholding and sales tax collections, estimated payments from individuals are due in January. Collections of payroll withholding taxes grew 0.9 percent for the month. The federal government shutdown did not have an effect this month because the shutdown ended and back pay was issued. Collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting December sales, rose 0.8 percent in January. The combined December and January receipts, representing the bulk of the holiday shopping season, was 3.9 percent above the same period last year. Also, December and January are significant months for collections of nonwithholding and receipts can be distorted by the timing of payments. Taxpayers had until January 15 to submit their fourth estimated payment for tax year 2018 and some of these payments are received in December. Receipts of nonwithholding for the two-month period fell 36.4 percent from last year.

On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 1.3 percent through January, behind the annual forecast of 5.9 percent growth. Year-to-date, withholding collections are 3.9 percent ahead of the same period last year, above the annual estimate of 3.8 percent growth. On a year-to-date basis, sales tax collections have risen 4.0 percent, ahead of the annual estimate of 3.7 percent growth. Nonwithholding collections for the first seven months of the fiscal year fell by 15.5 percent, behind the annual estimate of a 15.2 percent increase. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 1.3 percent through January, below the annual forecast of 5.9 percent growth.

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Three Shenandoah Valley counties receive funding to support vendor training, creation of toolkit for hosting of local food trade shows

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today awarded a planning grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to Augusta, Rockingham, and Shenandoah counties to support the development of an innovative local foods program and share the program with other communities. The AFID planning grant program helps localities engage and promote the agriculture industry by providing and expanding new market opportunities at the local and regional level. Shenandoah County is serving as the lead for this project, which leverages an AFID award of $11,885 with an additional $14,000 in local funds.

“Supporting regional efforts to grow and develop the Commonwealth’s agriculture sector, our largest industry, is key to ensuring long-term economic success,” said Governor Northam. “Bringing opportunity to all parts of Virginia demands innovation and partnership like that which is on display with this project, and I commend Augusta, Rockingham, and Shenandoah counties for thinking strategically about how to best integrate regional agricultural assets into their larger economic development plans.”

While agriculture is the Shenandoah Valley’s leading industry, a challenge faced by many small and mid-sized farmers is selling to larger, local buyers like restaurants and institutions. This project addresses that issue in two ways by leveraging the Shenandoah Valley Farm2Fork Affair, a successful local foods trade show. First, in the lead-up to the event, training will be provided to farmers and producers on how to network and market their products to wholesale buyers. Second, following the event, a toolkit will be developed for use by other local governments in the Commonwealth on how to host their own local foods event and train their producers to take advantage of opportunities to market and sell their products.

“Agriculture is an essential piece of Virginia’s economy and it benefits the whole state to support new and creative ways for producers of all sizes to get their products to market,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I applaud efforts like the Shenandoah Valley Farm2Fork Affair and hope to see more like it across the Commonwealth.”

Since its creation in 2012, the AFID planning grant program has awarded $807,482 to 38 projects covering 58 unique localities across the Commonwealth. The planning grants are part of the Governor’s AFID program, an economic development program for political subdivisions of the Commonwealth committed to growing and developing their local agriculture and forestry industry sectors. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services administers the AFID program and planning grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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State News

Governor Northam announces 11th Annual Conference on Agricultural Trade

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam will co-host the 11th Annual Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade with the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the Port of Virginia on March 5, 2019 at the Richmond Marriott Hotel. The one-day conference will bring together producers, agribusinesses, entrepreneurs, exporters, foreign ambassadors and government ministers, educational leadership, state and federal government officials, and many more to discuss challenges and opportunities for global agricultural exports.

“For more than a decade, the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade has served as an important forum for stakeholders from Virginia’s two largest industries to come together and hear from key leaders in government, business, and international relations on the outlook of the trade environment,” said Governor Northam. “Global trade is a vital component of a strong Virginia economy and my administration remains committed to growing opportunity for producers and exporters in every part of our Commonwealth.”

The Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade will feature an outstanding array of speakers from the front lines of our trade sector, individuals who are involved in this complex marketplace every day. Conference participants will hear from foreign dignitaries, private-sector leaders, trade negotiators and others on topics that are timely and relevant for 2019 and beyond.

“Our high-quality Virginia agricultural and forest products are in demand around the world,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “As we continue working to build markets around the globe for the Commonwealth’s producers, this conference gives us a chance to discuss the challenges of the current trade environment and find new opportunities for growth.”

This year’s conference will focus on a shifting trade environment, the challenges and opportunities for agriculture, and the outlook for important trade negotiations. Key speakers and participants include Thomas Barkin, the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Jim DiMenna, the Canada-based CEO of Red Sun Farms, as well as trade negotiators, a variety of industry experts, and dignitaries and officials from many countries, including China.

For more information about the conference click here.

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Governor Northam announces launch of 2019 Governor’s Fellows Program

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Virginia State House. Farragutful [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

RICHMOND — Governor Northam today announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2019 Governor’s Fellows Program. Since 1982, the Governor’s Fellows Program has offered young Virginians firsthand state government experience at the highest level of the executive branch. Each fellow is placed with a member of the Governor’s Cabinet or with a member of his personal staff, providing an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the work and decision-making in the Office of the Governor.

“Each summer, the Governor’s Fellows Program gives participants a unique glimpse into the administration of state government and an opportunity to gain practical experience that they can carry forward,” said Governor Northam. “Not only do these exceptional young students represent the next generation of Virginia leaders, they bring new energy and valuable perspectives to our office.”

“The Governor’s Fellows Program is a rare experience, and for me was once in a lifetime,” said Cainan Townsend, a Prince Edward School Board member and a 2016 Governor’s Fellow under the McAuliffe administration. “It was an opportunity to gain exposure to our state government from interactions with, cabinet secretaries, state agencies, to the Governor himself. I credit much of my success to my participation in the program.”

In addition, Governor’s fellows learn from special guest speakers from the administration and go on site visits to state government agencies.

Qualified applicants must be rising college seniors, graduating seniors, or graduate students. All Virginia college and university students are eligible to apply, regardless of state of residence. Virginia residents who attend out-of-state colleges and universities are also eligible. Both public and private college and university students are encouraged to apply.

The selection of Fellows is based solely on merit. The Fellows Program does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status.

The deadline to apply for the Governor’s Fellows Program is Friday, March 15, 2019. The program directors will hold interviews between March 20, 2019 and April 6, 2019 and will advise on decisions by April 11, 2019. The program runs from Monday, June 3, 2019 to Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

To apply, visit the Governor’s Fellows Program website and send the required recommendation letters and transcripts to the address below:

Governor’s Fellows Program
Post Office Box 2454
Richmond, Virginia 23219

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State News

Governor Northam statement on offensive photo

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement February 2nd:

“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.

“This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

Watch Governor Northam’s statement here:

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all-day 2nd annual Car Giveaway event @ Auto Care Clinic
2nd annual Car Giveaway event @ Auto Care Clinic
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4:00 pm Bethel Assembly of God fundraise... @ Bethel Assembly of God
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Bethel Assembly of God (111 Totten Lane, Front Royal) is having a fundraiser dinner on Tuesday, Feb 19, from 4-7pm. Menu includes all you can eat tacos with fixin’s, desserts, and drinks. Cost is $8[...]
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10:00 am Drawing Basics: Winter 2019 5-We... @ Art in the Valley
Drawing Basics: Winter 2019 5-We... @ Art in the Valley
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