Virginia unemployment claims hit 43-year low

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D- Va.) stated that the 43-year low shows that Virginia’s economy is growing. (Joe Mahoney/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

RICHMOND (AP) — The number of unemployment claims filed in Virginia last year was the lowest level in more than 40 years.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced Tuesday that Virginia’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for December, and that the 178,400 initial claims filed in 2016 was the smallest number since 1973.

McAuliffe said the figures show the state’s economy is growing.

But despite having a low unemployment rate, the state’s overall economic growth continues to lag behind the country’s growth rate. McAuliffe and state lawmakers are currently grappling with a more than $1 billion budget deficit brought on by lower-than-expected state income tax revenues. National defense cuts have led to fewer high-paying jobs, while younger, lower-paid workers are replacing retiring baby boomers.