Virginia’s jobless rate reaches 4.6 percent

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Virginia’s unemployment reached 4.6 percent in August, the highest rate in the state since January 1997. William F. Mezger, chief economist at the Virginia Employment Commission, said the economy likely will slip into a recession at the end of this year that will continue through the first two quarters of 2009. The national unemployment rate is 6.1 percent. Northern Virginia had the state’s lowest unemployment rate, 3.6 percent, among the state’s metropolitan areas. Danville had the highest jobless rate at 8.1 percent. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The Council for America’s First Freedom is proposing to build two hotels around its religious education center in the historic Shockoe Slip area in Richmond. The nonprofit is working with Apple REIT on the project, which hopes construction would begin on a Marriott extended-stay hotel and a Marriott Suites hotel in 2009. (Richmond Times-Dispatch

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced on Tuesday that the federal government would spend $2 million to increase rail passenger traffic to Richmond’s downtown Main Street Station. The $11.5 million project in the state would add a 3.1-mile section of railway south of Fredericksburg, which would allow trains to pass each other. This would improve on-time rail service to Richmond. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and the union representing 40 percent of its work force are just starting to discuss the most important parts of contract negotiations — less than one month before the current contract expires. They have just started to discuss health care, wages and pensions. Prior to this, negotiations dealt with contract language and work conditions. The current contract expires Oct. 26. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Lobbyists at mortgage companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been let go, after conditions of the government takeover of the companies prohibited lobbying efforts. The Federal Housing Finance Agency now represents the companies before Congress. The companies are still trying to figure out how to restructure remaining employees in its government and industry relations departments. (The Washington Post)

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