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At GCC, leading economist says area’s job growth over the next decade will triple national pace
Employment in our area will grow at three times the national average over the next decade, Dr. Christine Chmura, one of the leading economists in Virginia, said during Wednesday’s Germanna Annual Workforce Advisory Meeting at the GCC Daniel Center in Culpeper.
“You’re performing a lot better than the nation overall,” Chmura told business leaders from Fredericksburg, Culpeper, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Orange, King George, Caroline and Madison. And she said the recession didn’t hit the area as hard as it did most of America. “Your region is much better off.”
Chmura said jobs in education, health care and “high skill jobs” will be the most plentiful in our area during the coming decade.
She is President and Chief Economist, Chmura Economics & Analytics in Richmond. She currently serves on the Governor’s Economic Advisory Board.
Chmura said the region’s proximity to Washington and relatively low cost of living had shielded much of the area’s population from the brunt of the recession and will result in a faster recovery.
She said teachers, health care workers and “high-skilled workers” in general will be among the most sought after employees here in the coming decade.
And she said even though it may not feel like it, that the national economy “is starting to pick up. ” She said the recession was not severe enough to have the kind of long-term effect on consumer behavior that the recession did, and that consumers “are feeling better about the economy six months out,” but said it may take until 2015 for the U.S. economy “to reach the previous peak.”
Chmura said the recession didn’t hit the area as hard as it did most of America. “Your region is very much better off than the U.S. overall,” she said, She said the region defined above lost a relatively small number of 2,340 jobs. She pointed out that the January unemployment rate for the region was 6.7 percent, compared to 6.9 percent for the state and 9.8 percent at that time for the nation. She said 60 percent of the unemployed in our region have a high school degree or less.
She said that Germanna will play an important role in the recovery because of the Workforce certifications and academic degrees it provides its students, about 98 percent of whom remain in the area, and community colleges’ ability to pivot quickly to meet local needs.
GCC President David A. Sam told regional business leaders at the Annual Workforce Advisory Meeting, “We are needed more than ever” as the area recovers from the recession. “More people will come to us to retrain and upgrade their skills.” But he said guidance is needed from area businesses. “Our job is to train people and educate people for careers that have not been invented yet.”
GCC Vice President for Workforce and Community Relations Jeanne Wesley said employer feedback called for training enhancing “soft skills,” meaning communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, customer service skills and selling skills. She said they also saw a need to enhance employees’ math and analytical skills.