Annual economic forecast calls for Virginia to expand broadband

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Although Virginia is faring better than the rest of the nation, a robust economic recovery remains elusive, according to the 2012-2013 Virginia Economic Forecast, the 13th annual report on the economy conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy in Charlottesville.

Released Tuesday, the forecast projects a number of key economic data for Virginia, including: 

• Virginia employment is projected to expand 1.7 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.5 percent in 2011. Employment growth is expected to accelerate to 1.9 percent in 2013—based on this forecast the state would reach its pre-recession employment level in 2013.
• With the recovery continuing at a tepid pace, wages and salaries growth in Virginia is forecast to remain at 4.3 percent in 2012 before accelerating to 5.2 percent in 2013.
• Real retail sales are expected to improve 4.1 percent in 2012 and to accelerate slightly to 4.2 percent growth in 2013.
• After double-digit percentage declines for four straight years, single-family building permits posted a gain in 2010, but it was merely a 1.8 percent annual average expansion that was followed in 2011 with a 2.5 percent contraction. Single-family building permits are forecast to jump 8.1 percent in 2012 and 10.2 percent further in 2013.

The forecast also examines the impact and benefits of expanding access, bandwidth and speeds of broadband or high speed internet in Virginia. While Virginia does better than national norms on measures of availability, it scores poorly in terms of its depth and prices vary significantly across the state.  The report says, “Affordable and high quality broadband internet access will help invigorate Virginia’s economy and create jobs in three main ways: (1) investment in broadband infrastructure creates jobs, (2) broadband-enabled innovation expands the reach of small businesses, and (3) high speed internet access improves efficiency and expands educational opportunities.”



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