In the 2019 State of the Commonwealth Report, Robert McNab, Director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy and Professor of Economics in the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University, analyzes Virginia’s economy and assesses its future progress.
The 2019 State of the Commonwealth report is divided into five parts:
Virginia’s Growth Improves in Uncertain Times
Virginia’s economy is poised to grow for the fifth consecutive year. The number of jobs and people employed set new records in the summer of 2019 and CNBC recently ranked the Commonwealth as the most business-friendly state in the country. However, increasing economic uncertainty threatens the promise of a bright start to the coming decade. We assess the performance of the Virginia economy and ask what the future holds.
Virginia’s Metropolitan Areas: Moving Forward
Many indicators of economic performance suggest that the Commonwealth’s metropolitan areas grew in 2018 and into 2019. Unemployment is near or below 3% across Virginia’s metros, and average wages have risen over the last three years. Compared to 2015, the metros are in a better place today. We discuss whether the good news can last.
The Virginia Retirement System: Assessing Its Challenges and Charting Its Future
The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) manages the assets in the Commonwealth’s public employee retirement systems. The available evidence suggests that the VRS has been well managed and has outperformed many other state pension funds. We evaluate the VRS’s performance and suggest changes that could enable it to lower its costs even while improving its rate of return.
Marijuana in Virginia
Over 30 states permit the personal use of marijuana for medical purposes and more than 10 states have legalized the possession of small amounts for personal use. With increasing calls in Virginia for the decriminalization or legalization of small amounts of marijuana, we ask who uses the substance, who is being arrested for possession or use, and what the revenue impact might be if marijuana were legalized in the Commonwealth.
Federal Spending in the Commonwealth: A Primer
In fiscal year 2018, federal government awards in Virginia totaled $109 billion, or $12,866 per Virginian. The Commonwealth’s economy is fueled, for better or worse, by spending decisions in the halls of Congress and the White House. We explore how the federal government spends money in Virginia and highlight procurement spending in the state’s metropolitan areas. We also look back at the impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on the economies of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.