Our economy is still slowly recovering from what’s become known as the Great Recession. As most economists have noted, prolonged high unemployment has made this recession particularly painful. Yet over halfway into the 1st session of the 112th Congress, the new Republican majority has yet to hold a vote on a bill focused on job creation.
In the past 15 months, 2.14 million private sector jobs have been created. But at the same time, over 1 million public sector jobs have been lost as the stimulus dries up and state and local governments let people go to balance their budgets. It’s a significant drag on the economy, made worse when the Federal Government cuts social safety net programs and other federal aid designed to reduce the human impact of the economic downturn.
Despite these difficulties, we are fortunate here in Northern Virginia to be faring better than most of the rest of the country. Our unemployment rate remains around 4 percent, less than half the national average. In recent years, major companies such as Hilton, SAIC and Northrop Grumman have relocated to the area, bringing with them new jobs and synergies with real estate, contractors and our local service industry.
It’s not a stretch to say that the strength of the Federal Government is the strength of our economy, whether you’re a government employee, a federal contractor or in the service or manufacturing industry. We all benefit from this strong federal presence.
Last year, total federal spending in Virginia topped $155 billion. Of that $67 billion came from the Department of Defense. And in our district alone, Virginia’s 8th District, $44.4 billion, over a third of the total spent in Virginia, was allocated.
Northern Virginia has weathered the recession better than most, but statistics like these are small solace if you do not have a job.
That is why this week, I hosted a Job Hunter’s Boot Camp that attracted nearly 1,000 8th District residents. The purpose of the event was to help my constituents in Northern Virginia, those looking for a job and those looking to find a job more suited to their interests, put together the most attractive package to potential employers, whether through a resume, in an interview or by networking.
Representatives from over 40 of the region’s top employers were on hand to talk directly with applicants and breakout sessions were held focusing on specific industries and best practices in the search for the right job.
Our economy won’t fully recover until the unemployment rate drops significantly. This week’s jobs boot camp is just one small way I hope my office can contribute to efforts to hasten that day.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.