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Despite Ranking, Richmond Isn't Top Job Market 

Richmond: the 6th-best city in the country to find a job? Not really.

The mayor's office issued a press release last week celebrating Richmond's impressive ranking in Forbes' recent national survey of the best cities to find a job, calling it a "testament" to the city's livability. Mayor L. Douglas Wilder thanked "his colleagues in the surrounding counties" for the "recognition paid to the Capital City."

The city is taking credit for what is actually a regional ranking. In fact, the city isn't even the best locality in the metro region to find a job, according to the latest statistics from the Virginia Employment Commission.

Consider the unemployment rate in the city proper. At 4.8 percent, Richmond's is higher than the counties of Henrico, 3 percent, and Chesterfield, 2.9 percent.

Read the fine print in the Forbes article, and you'll find that the magazine's ranking is based on the number of jobs, and diversity of jobs, in the entire region — not just the city. And those numbers are indeed impressive.

The city, however, continues to rank considerably behind the wealthier counties in civilian workforce. In June, the most recent month that figures are available through the Employment Commission, 94,395 Richmond residents had jobs. Meanwhile, some 156,584 Henrico residents had found work, and 158,111 Chesterfielders were on somebody's payroll.

As for the number of people who actually work in the city, the numbers are a little better. The number of people who punch a clock within city limits averaged 160,252 in 2005, compared with 158,131 in 2004, a slight increase. But over the long haul, the numbers seem daunting: Richmond employed 190,906 people in 1990.

Henrico is the biggest regional employer, averaging 171,971 workers in 2005, up from an average 167,023 in 2004. Chesterfield, meanwhile, is still trying to catch up, with 114,819 workers in 2005, up from112,829 in 2004. S
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