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Virginia’s uneven recovery mirrors its growing political divide

The averages may say that Virginia’s job growth almost tracks the nation’s recovery. But those overall numbers are driven by large urban counties, especially in the northern suburbs of the District. Across Virginia, as voters decide the nation’s most-watched election this year, most areas had fewer jobs in 2016 than in 2007.This uneven economy could impact the governor’s race between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. Of the 133 counties and cities in Virginia, 85 have lost jobs since 2007. Job growth was mainly concentrated in booming urban areas, like Northern Virginia and the central part of the state around Richmond. Meanwhile, to the south and west, communities are still dealing with the decline of their four key industries — coal mining, tobacco, textiles and furniture-making.Those differences matter because the divide between job winners and losers mirrors Virginia’s growing political divide. Virginia voters rank the economy as their most important election issue, along with health care. Virginia’s last gubernatorial race in 2013 was close, decided by only 2.5 percent of the more than 2.2 million votes cast. And so is the current race, according to recent polling. So a shift in the votes of any region of the state could be decisive.

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The Washington Post