Northern Virginia is better known for its well-educated, affluent work force than for its population of illegal immigrants.
The region provides more than 1.3 million jobs and has a national reputation as a high-tech hub and base for a wide variety of federal contractors. In a
12-month period ending in September, the region’s annual job growth rate dropped from 3 percent to 1.7 according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
Nonetheless, the area still accounted for nearly a third of the state’s new jobs.
“Immigration is not the No. 1 issue for business” says Laurie Wieder, president of the Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The real issues are
economic growth, quality of life, education and transportation.”
The education levels of the workers in the region’s four largest counties — Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun and Arlington County — already are higher than
the state and national average. In Arlington, 67 percent of adult residents are college graduates, according to 2006 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.
That figure is nearly 59 percent in Fairfax, 53 percent in Loudoun and 37 percent in Prince William. Nationally, 24 percent of adult Americans have earned a
bachelor’s degree or higher while the average is 33 percent in Virginia.
In addition, U.S. News and World Report ranked Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology as the top high school in the
While Fairfax and Loudoun counties boast the highest household median incomes in the country — with Fairfax currently first at $100,318 — the region faces
budget challenges as a result of the slumping housing market. Fewer housing sales and a big jump in foreclosures are devastating the real estate tax revenue
the region relies on to finance government services. Fairfax County expects a budget shortfall of $220 million for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Prince William also is bracing for a shortfall of more than $50 million.
In light of this development, recent economic development announcements that would create 100 or more jobs in the region have come as welcome news. They
Volkswagen of America will relocate its headquarters from Michigan to the Fairfax County, creating 400 jobs.
Covance Inc., one of the world’s largest drug development services companies, will occupy and expand the former Eli Lilly site in Prince William
County. The company will retain 450 existing jobs and add 100 more.GridPoint Inc., a renewable energy company, will relocate its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Arlington, creating 250 jobs.