Charlottesville a Fast-Shrinking Economy?

Hmmm … this isn’t good. I wonder how they define “Charlottesville” – is it “Charlottesville, the City of,” or “Charlottesville = Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson”?

9. Charlottesville, VA

> 2013 GMP change: -2.2% (tied-7th worst)

> Change in employment: -1.9% (tied-5th worst)

> Projected 2014 GMP change: 2.3% (tied-144th best)

> Unemployment rate: 4.6% (32nd lowest)

Charlottesville’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2013 after failing to grow in 2012. This year, however, may be relatively strong for the area. Employment is projected to rise by 1.4%, while GMP is expected to grow by 2.3%. While these figures aren’t strong relative to the U.S. overall, they are a step in the right direction. Despite the two consecutive years of a shrinking economy, the area’s unemployment rate of 4.6% is considerably lower than many other metro areas. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, a major employer in the area.

This does track with some of the sentiments I have observed, if not the data. I’m thinking that the study authors mean at least “Charlottesville + Albemarle” as much of the University of Virginia is in Albemarle.

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  1. dukenilnil February 4, 2014 at 13:38

    Any clues on what jobs Charlottesville is losing? Haven’t been here long but the University (and associated Health Systems), Federal Gov’t and contractor jobs, and local gov’t appear to be the major employers. Those seem to have been fairly stable so are the job losses coming from a collection of smaller business? A larger, long-term growth issue for the Albersville area seems to be the lack of multiple large manufacturing jobs and large scale business sector employers (financial centers) that can drive growth. This list is a little out of date, but when your top 50 employers is littered with retail outlets of national chains, there are not a lot of career growth positions for blue or white color workers. If the headquarters were here, that’s another thing, but the retail jobs themselves are valuable but don’t support a thriving/growing community on their own.

  2. dukenilnil February 4, 2014 at 13:40

    BTW – what’s the source for the numbers? Missed the link if its there

  3. Phil V February 5, 2014 at 10:58

    Jim didn’t link to the article, but it’s here: The main problem is what they consider to be of “fast-shrinking” — they use the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, but make artificial calculations to come up with their list.

    Rates of unemployment and growth in the 372 MSAs (Cville’s MSA is the city + 5 counties) this year were dominated by hot energy areas (, e.g., Bismark, ND. So while employment was down last year, it was already in highest 10% nationally, and because it’s about 2/3rds the national average, any absolute movement translates to nearly double a percentage movement — so a 1.9% change would only be a 1.25% change if our unemployment rate were the national average. I’ll take 4.6% and slowly rising over 6.5% and slowly falling any day.

    The other thing that doesn’t really fit is that the 2014 projected GMP of 2.2% is right around the median of MSA projections. If the Cville MSA were actually “fast” shrinking, you’d expect it to again be in the bottom 10% (7th worst) like it was last year. The projections are likely wrong, but the conclusion from the BLS data is more that Cville was a fast shrunken MSA rather than a fast shrinking.


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