ISSUE 8   |  WINTER 2012

The Council on Virginia's Future works in four areas -- strategic vision / roadmap development, assessment, performance, and productivity improvement -- to enhance the state's effectiveness in making Virginia an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.


The Virginia Report 2011: Virginia Progressing, Changing  back to top

The Council's annual report continues to show that, despite challenges, the Commonwealth is making progress on a wide range of key outcomes. Fresh data from the 2010 U.S. Census and other sources show that Virginia's profile is also changing.

As always, The Virginia Report examines progress on the high-level societal indicators and agency performance measures tracked on Virginia Performs. The two sections added in 2010 -- "A Profile of Virginia" and "A Regional Perspective" -- were updated as well and contain some thought-provoking data.

Virginia's Profile:  Some Highlights

Stylized demograhics chart.According to the 2010 U.S. census, since 2000 Virginia's population has crossed the 8 million mark and, like most states, has grown older and more diverse. For instance, the percentage of all Virginians that are:

  • 65 or older rose from 11.2% to 12.2%
  • Of Hispanic origin rose from 4.7% to 7.9%
  • Of Asian origin rose from 3.7% to 5.5%
  • Foreign-born rose from 8.1% to 11.4%.

Growth remains concentrated in the Northern and Central (Richmond) regions, with the Northern region alone accounting for more than half of the state's total population growth. By contrast, 30 localities, including 8 cities, lost population during the decade. The largest losses were in Accomack County (-13.4%), Danville (-11.1%), Buchanan County (-10.7%), and Martinsville (-10.3%).

Virginians are also becoming more educated:  More than 34.2% of adults age 25 and over have at least a bachelor's degree.  Interestingly, college attainment levels for young women age 25 to 34 were, at 42%, about 9 percentage points higher than males in the same age cohort.

Other interesting facts include:

  • Total employment fell slightly between 2005 and 2010, with the largest declines in construction (-5.5%) and manufacturing (-4.7%). The largest gains were in professional, scientific, and technical services (+2.5%); public administration (+2.4%); and education services, and health care and social assistance (+2.3%).
  • Virginia ranks first for scientists and engineers as a percentage of the workforce.
  • Virginia has the nation's 10th largest economy, and more than $396 million of venture capital was invested in Virginia companies in 2010, the 10th highest amount in the country.
  • Virginia ranks 39th nationally for percentage of residents with access to broadband services.
  • Virginia enjoys the 7th lowest rate of poverty in the U.S.

You may download a copy of The Virginia Report 2011 here:
(pdf, 4.7 mb) | high-res/Print (pdf, 24.5 mb)    end of story

Roadmap Development

Highlights:  October 2011 Council Meeting  back to top

The Council on Virginia's Future, chaired by Governor McDonnell, met in early October for an update of recent activities; a review of Productivity Investment Fund successes (see the Summer 2011 newsletter for a summary of the projects presented at the Council meeting); and to begin a more focused discussion on economic growth in Virginia.

Economic Growth

Virginia Performs tracks two important indicators of economic progress in the Commonwealth -- per capita personal income and job growth. The good news is that Virginia boasts one of the strongest economies in the country and is consistently ranked among the very best states for business. But Virginia didn't get where it is today by chance; strong leadership, sound fiscal and regulatory policy, solid infrastructure, top-notch education and research capabilities, and a consistent commitment to economic development have been critical factors in the Commonwealth's top-ten economic performance.

Business Clusters-generating high-value jobs and economic growthYet in today's increasingly competitive and rapidly changing world economy, even the most successful states must constantly re-evaluate their strategic focus and core investments against the best thinking the world has to offer. Two important issues need to be addressed:

  • What are the key drivers of income and economic growth?
  • What are the most effective approaches for improving growth prospects?

The Council heard two perspectives on these issues. Dr. Christian Ketels -- a member of Dr. Michael Porter's team at the Harvard's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Stockholm School of Economics -- discussed his findings from recent research on economic development practices around the world. [Porter is one of the originators of economic theory about clusters, defined as a geographically concentrated group of interconnected companies and associated institutions in a field of several related industries; e.g., biotech research and development.]  Dr. Christine Chmura -- President and Chief Economist for Chmura Economics and Analytics in Richmond -- presented a state perspective, examining some of the most important trends affecting regional economies across the Commonwealth.

Highlights include:

  • It is not what areas a state competes in that determines its prosperity, but how productively it competes in those areas.
  • Competitive regions and clusters are the building blocks of long-term prosperity. Education and workforce quality are critical underpinnings for both regions and clusters.
  • Building economic competitiveness is a collaborative process involving government at multiple levels, companies, teaching and research institutions, and private sector organizations.
  • Creating a framework for driving long-term economic growth requires a combination of four elements: analysis, strategy, leadership, and organization and tools.

All materials presented at the Council meeting are available (in PDF format) on the Council website.

The Council will continue to work with thought leaders and experts in the field to more fully define the key drivers of long-term economic growth; the goal is to help clarify best practices for spurring regional and statewide economic vitality.  end of story


Legislator Community Cards
Updated Community Snapshots are being prepared for each member of the 2012 General Assembly. Council staff will deliver them to legislative offices over the course of the session.
As usual, brochures will include performance details for each district locality on voter participation, per capita income, unemployment, poverty, infant mortality, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, uninsured rates, crime, traffic deaths, 3rd grade reading, high school graduation and educational attainment.



New Productivity Investment Fund Projects Will Improve Inspections, Employee Reporting  back to top


PIF Project: Workplace InspectionsVOSH Data-driven Safety Inspections

The Virginia Occupational and Safety Division (VOSH), part of the state's Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), is responsible for enforcing occupational safety and health laws and regulations in the private and public sectors. VOSH also helps Virginia's employers enhance safety and health protections for their employees.

DOLI and VOSH are teaming up with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) and the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (VWCC) to target inspections where employees are at most risk. This PIF project will merge and analyze information from these organizations to ensure that inspectors go where they are most needed, reduce wasted trips, and produce safer work environments.

The new data analysis application is expected to generate a more than 2-to-1 payback for the Commonwealth in its first full year of operation.

Time, Attendance, and Leave System (TAL)

Also supported by the Productivity Investment Fund is TAL -- a new application being developed for the Department of Human Resource Management to improve efficiency, lower costs, and enhance customer service by extending the functionality of the Personnel Management Information System. TAL will incorporate a web-based enterprise solution for time, attendance, and leave reporting and management.  end of story


A New Accreditation Standard for VA High Schools    back to top


The Importance of Graduation

Educational attainment is probably the single most important precondition for future success in the workplace. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median salary for an adult (25 and older) with a high school diploma is almost 40% higher than for a person who did not graduate; adult males without a high school diploma are almost 9 times more likely to live in poverty than a college graduate.

And things are unlikely to change. The decline of the manufacturing sector and the growing importance of advanced skills mean that a high school diploma has now become a minimum requirement to get and keep a good job.

The good news is that high school graduation rates are improving in Virginia; the bad news is that too many of Virginia's young still aren't graduating on time. Between 2008 (the first year that Virginia used a new, more accurate measure for determining on-time graduation rates) and 2011, the graduation rate increased from 82.1% to 86.6%. Over the same time span, dropout rates decreased from 8.7% to 7.2%.

However, these numbers still mean that more than 13,000 students did not receive a Board of Education-approved diploma on time. While some of these students may be on long-term absence due to illness or pursuing alternate paths to completion, too many young adults aren't getting diplomas at all. In response, Virginia is taking a new approach to increasing accountability for this critical, long-term outcome.

rubber stamp saying "PASSED"A Stricter Accountability

In addition to offering a wide array of resources for students, teachers, and schools to help improve student achievement, the Virginia Department of Education implements the standards for accreditation established by the Board of Education.  Failing to receive full accreditation is more than a public relations issue; schools must respond vigorously and comprehensively in order to get back on track for full accreditation.  In 2009, the Board established new accreditation standards that hold high schools more accountable for their graduation results.

Standards of accreditation have traditionally focused on test results for English, mathematics, science, and history/social science. Now this new standard establishes requirements for on-time graduation and completion. In its September 2011 report on accreditation results -- the first for the new benchmark – more than 11% of public high schools failed to achieve full accreditation because they did not meet this new graduation and completion index benchmark.

See Virginia Performs for more details about Virginia's results for high school graduation and high school dropout rates.   end of story