Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell went to Capitol Hill recently to tout Virginia's success in promoting job growth through business-friendly legislation. "We have put forth bold initiatives to get our economy moving again," McDonnell testified. "Because of our trust in the men and women to determine the course of their business destiny -- we have announced 128 new projects, over $2.2 billion in new investment and over 11,673 new jobs."
But a new report takes exception to McDonnell's claims and says the policies he touted to Congress did little to create new jobs in Virginia.
"The sobering measure of the latest jobs data is that, in Virginia, we have made no progress on job creation since the official end of the recession way back in June 2009," said Michael Cassidy, President of the Commonwealth Institute, the Richmond-based think tank that issued the report.
McDonnell last year successfully shepherded through the General Assembly a number of industry-friendly economic development initiatives, including a tax deduction on capital gains earned from investing in state science and biotech startup firms.
But most Virginia industries continue to employ fewer workers now than before the downturn, and the state needs to add about 263,000 jobs to return to pre-recession levels, according to the Commonwealth Institute's report.
The governor noted that about 55,400 net new jobs have been created in Virginia, the fourth-highest number in the country, since February 2010. But at that rate, the state wouldn't return to pre-recession levels until 2022, Cassidy said.
"The governor measures his success based on that low point, because it was the month after he was inaugurated," he said. "I don't think you can really attribute his particular policies to a particular number of jobs created. It's much too early to tell."
For his part, McDonnell acknowledges that Virginia, whose 6.7 percent unemployment rate is well below the national average of 9.4 percent, still faces a challenge in restoring jobs.
"It is unfortunate that this liberal interest group is working to distort the truth that more Virginians are finding work," said McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell. "We recognize there is still much work to be done to get Virginians back to work."