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Need another reason to celebrate the season? How about Friday’s positive economic news for the nation and for Richmond in particular? A Federal Reserve survey shows that the United States economy continued to grow at a modest but steady pace last month. The report showed employment numbers continuing to rise, with many of the Fed’s 12 districts reporting strong job gains.

Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 3.6%. That’s an impressive number, especially when most governments consider any unemployment rate below 5% to be full employment. However, the Richmond region’s numbers are far more impressive than that. The story by John Reid Blackwell in Friday’s RTD, “Unemployment rate was 2.6% in October in Richmond area,” explained that the local rate has dropped 0.2 percentage points from a year ago. Employers in the area added a net total of 5,500 jobs between October 2018 and last October.

The local job-growth rate of 0.8% outpaced the commonwealth’s overall growth rate of 0.7% (although it trailed the national job growth rate of 1.4%). According to government data, more than 1,350 people gained employment in our area, bringing the number of unemployed to 17,868 — down from 19,220 in October 2018.

Undoubtedly as a result of more people working, Richmond’s poverty rate also has seen substantial declines. In October, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report that showed the number of city residents living below the poverty line has fallen to 21.9% from 24.4% in the same month a year ago. And, since 2016, RVA has seen a 4.9% decline in poverty rates. While that number is still far too high and much remains to be done, progress is being made.

— Robin Beres

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