Governor Northam Announces Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Dropped to 4.2 Percent in July

Rate outpaces the country—Virginia added 144,000 jobs over 12 months across nearly every economic sector

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in July, which is 3.7 percentage points below the rate from one year ago. The labor force expanded by 7,818 to 4,241,686, as the number of unemployed residents decreased by 7,595. The number of employed residents rose to 4,065,473, an increase of 15,413. In July 2021, Virginia saw over-the-year job gains of 3.8 percent. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate of 5.4 percent.

“Our administration is focused on creating an economic climate that will help Virginia’s workers and businesses thrive,” said Governor Northam. “The impressive gains in payroll employment and the downward trend of unemployment rates continue to show the strength and resiliency of our economy and our workforce as we recover from the pandemic. Virginians have shown great resolve over the last year and a half, and it is evident in the numbers we are seeing in this report.”

Virginia has once again been named America’s “Top State for Business” by CNBC. This achievement, paired with the data in this report, shows how Virginia has created a strong business environment.

“The continued decline in Virginia’s unemployment rate and the increase in payroll employment are all signs of a strong job market,” said Secretary of Labor Megan Healy. “We believe that workers will continue to re-enter the labor force and that the strong job market will continue in the coming months. Governor Northam and his administration remain committed to working with businesses and workforce development partners to ensure that every Virginian has the help and resources they need to find work.”

“It is exciting to see the unemployment rate in the Commonwealth significantly lower than it was at this time last year,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “As our labor force keeps growing month-over-month, we are very optimistic about what the future holds for Virginia’s businesses.”

In July, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 134,100 jobs, while employment in the public sector gained 9,700 jobs. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2,300 jobs over-the-month. Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, ten of the eleven major industry divisions experienced employment gains. The largest over-the-year job increase occurred in leisure and hospitality with 46,000 new jobs, a 15.5 percent increase. The next largest over-the-year job increase occurred in professional and business services with 30,000 new jobs, a 4.0 percent increase. Trade, transportation and utilities experienced the third largest over-the-year job increase of 27,300 jobs, a 4.3 percent increase.

For a greater statistical breakdown visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at vec.virginia.gov.

Greensville School Nutrition Team Meets the Need of Students and Families throughout the Summer

The cafeteria staff at Greensville Elementary School start each morning by serving breakfast to over 200 students arriving for summer school instruction. After kids filter through the line and head to their classrooms, the cafeteria team cleans-up and breaks at 9:30 a.m. to share a meal together. Each day of summer meals service, a member of the cafeteria team brings in a special home-cooked meal to share among one another. Shortly after, the cafeteria crew quickly cleans up after themselves and prepares for summer lunch service. 

“The teamwork I am seeing among my colleagues this year is amazing! This pandemic has actually strengthened the communication skills, work ethic, and camaraderie within our department. I applaud each of our staff members for the fantastic job that they have done and continue to do.”– MaRendia Garner, School Nutrition Director

It is this very spirit of teamwork and community that has propelled the entire nutrition department forward to adapt to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. In spring and summer 2020, the school division was forced to shut down as the result of a high number of COVID-19 cases within the community. The resilient school nutrition team sprang into action, partnering with Pepsi Co to distribute meal kits to kids across the county. With the help of the local YMCA, seven staff members took on the important responsibility of delivering meals to nine sites to ensure families had access to meals during the difficult time.

This summer, the school nutrition team is thrilled to be back to more normal operations, serving kids and summer school students out of cafeterias and apartment complex sites. Garner applied for nearly every Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) waivers offered by USDA that provide flexibilities this year. 

“These waivers allowed us to provide students with multiple days’ worth of meals at one time, allowed students to eat meals in a non-congregate setting (at home), and allowed us to have some flexibility as to what time the meals are served. The waivers lifted restrictions that would have made it nearly impossible to feed our students during this time.” – MaRendia Garner

In a rural community like Greensville, these waivers enable kids and students to more easily access the nutrition they need to carry them into the following school year. In some instances, parents are able to come pick-up multiple days’ worth of meals for their kids on their way home from work.  

In addition to utilizing waivers, the nutrition team sought out grant funding to help adapt to changing meal distribution plans. From home delivery, to bus stop drop offs, to meals in the classrooms, the team needed equipment and packaging supplies that would ensure students safely received nutritious meals. A $33,000 grant from No Kid Hungry helped provide the department with necessary equipment like sealing machines, new refrigeration units, and cold/hot carriers. 


As the team wraps up their summer meals program, they’re already looking forward to the 2021-2022 school year. In the wake of the challenges faced these past 16 months, Garner is excited to try new menu options like Mashed Potato Bowl and Chicken Philly Subs. They’re also ready to see kids in-person and continue building relationships with each and every student. 

“The thing we really miss is getting to see the kids! Most of these ladies know all the kids in the school by name and their grade. I think the meals and the cafeteria give them a sense of normalcy that they need.” – Rhena King, Greensville Elementary Cafeteria Manager

Garner is encouraged that more families and school staff see the importance of school nutrition within the broader education community. In May, the Superintendent and school division helped celebrate School Lunch Hero Day with an award to the department for all their hard work throughout the past year. 

Garner looks forward to continue collaborating with school staff and departments to ensure students have equitable access to nutritious meals. 

VSU Offers Mobile Processing Unit Certification Program

Virginia State University’s (VSU) is offering a certification program for its new Small Ruminant Mobile Processing Unit. The program will be held on Saturdays beginning Aug. 28 through Sept. 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to train producers how to use the new unit to process their sheep and goats for market. Only certified producers who have completed the five-module certification program will be allowed to lease and use the unit. 

The certification includes four online virtual sessions that will be held on Aug. 28, Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Sept. 25. After completing the online sessions, producers must also complete a two-day hands-on training session at Randolph Farm at 4415 River Road, Petersburg, Virginia. The two-day session, which is required for certification, will be offered on Oct. 9-10, Nov. 6-7 and Dec. 4-5. Additional sessions will be added based on participant demand. Participants can select which two-day session they want to attend. The program fee is $100. Registration is required for every participant. To register, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link.

Modules will include mobile processing unit design and usage; sheep and goat harvesting; carcass fabrication; state and federal regulations; marketing your products; and hands-on training on operating the unit. Participants will learn all the steps needed to ensure the equipment operates safely before processing, during processing, humane harvesting, carcass cooling/hanging and fabrication. A certificate of competence will be awarded upon completion of assignment(s), including passing a quiz and demonstrating required butchering and fabrication skills.


Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) will follow all current CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this program. Additionally, all VCE employees and members of the public attending a VCE public program are required to: 1) wear a face shield or mask over their nose and mouth, 2) stay a minimum of six feet away from others, 3) wash or disinfect their hands frequently, and 4) stay home if they or anyone close to them have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms any time two weeks prior to the program or if they have been knowingly exposed to someone with COVID-19 two weeks prior to the program.

If you have any questions about this event or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Tina Cabrera at tcabrera@vsu.edu. or call (804) 524-5836 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during the business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

SBA Announces Plan to Open Supplemental Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applicants Encourages all potential SVOG applicants to apply

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration is announcing a call to all eligible Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) applicants seeking economic aid for live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits, and venues. New applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, August 20, 2021. The SVOG program has so far awarded $8.4 billion in grants to more than 10,800 businesses to assist in getting the nation’s cultural institutions, which are critical to the economy and were among the first to shutter, back on track.

While the application portal will close to new applicants, the SBA will continue delivering economic aid to help venues recover by providing critical relief through the supplemental awards program. Later this month the SBA will open the program for supplemental SVOGs for 50% of the original award amount, capped at a total of $10 million (initial and supplemental combined). Details will be announced at a later date. Additionally, to ensure no eligible venue is left behind, the SBA is currently accepting, by invitation, applications for reconsideration of award amounts and appeals. This rare opportunity gives applicants a chance to prove their eligibility and reverse a prior decision. SBA is committed to delivering relief to entertainment venues through these various options. Should the need arise, the SBA may reopen the portal or make other adjustments to its plan to best meet the needs of small businesses.

“After making much-needed improvements to this vital program, we’ve made swift progress getting more than $8 billion in funds into the hands of more than 10,800 performing arts venues and other related businesses – two-thirds of which employ less than 10 employees. These small businesses suffered disproportionate impacts from the pandemic and were often left out of early rounds of relief,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “However, we also know so many small businesses continue to struggle. That’s why, as this program nears the finish line, we’re providing additional funding options for our hardest-hit venues through our supplemental awards program, which will provide another critical lifeline to ensure businesses can reopen and stay open.”

“Simply stated, the Shuttered Venues Operator Grant was our lifeline. The grant has allowed us to return to full operation, including staffing and programming,” stated President and CEO of The Palace, a theater in Stamford, CT, Michael Moran.  “In early 2020, we planned for closing just three or four weeks. As the pandemic continued to worsen, so did our fears of never reopening. The Palace closed for 15 months, with expenses continuing to accumulate against bleak revenue prospects.  The SVOG grant through the SBA saved us and can be credited with not only our recovery but that of Stamford’s entire theater district.”

Moran continued, “Our theatrical community is so appreciative of the exceptional support of the SBA. The program and funds ensure the preservation of our community, allowing artists and audiences the unique experience of joy and enrichment through the arts.”

Since receiving the SVOG, The Palace and other venues have raised their curtains and welcomed back artists and audiences. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to provide technical assistance with the SVOG application portal and can be reached at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, at 1-800-877-8339. For additional information on SBA’s Economic Relief programs, visit COVID-19 relief options (sba.gov).

Further, SBA’s resource partners, including SCORE Mentors, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, are available to provide entities with individual guidance on their applications. Applicants can find a local resource partner via a zip code search at  http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance. For weekly SVOG funding data reports, visit www.sba.gov/svog.  

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant background

The SVOG program was appropriated more than $16.2 billion for grants via the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act. Of these funds, at least $2 billion is reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant. 

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