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Even here, losses are large
A snapshot of where the regional economy is now compared with 2006

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Date published: 2/21/2010

BY BILL FREEHLING

In many ways, the Fredericksburg area has weathered the effects of the Great Recession far better than most regions of the U.S.

Regional unemployment hasn't gone much above 6 percent, while the U.S. rate has crept into double digits. The region's diversity of jobs in government, military, health care, education and more has shielded the economy from the worst of the fallout hitting other areas.

Considering the state of the U.S. economy, the region has an amazing number of big projects going on--two new hospitals, the complete transformation of what was Park & Shop into Eagle Village, a huge new open-air shopping center and entertainment complex behind Spotsylvania Towne Centre, and more. If financing falls into place, the $260 million Kalahari Resorts project could break ground this summer, and others could follow.

That's the good news. Here's the bad: The local economy has suffered some enormous losses in the past few years.

While that's not news to anyone, looking at economic data from 2006 and 2009 (below and on Page D7) shows the extent of the damage. We picked 2006 because it's the last year that the economy was hitting on all cylinders before the housing market collapsed.

Looking at the local economy last year and in 2006, the numbers showed some improvement as last year went on, and compared with more recent years, the 2009 data look a lot better. We show you these figures not to rub salt in old wounds but to provide a snapshot of the toll that the recession has taken locally.

Unless otherwise noted, all these data are for the entire region--the city of Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. When data weren't available back to 2006, we used the latest we could get.

BUILDING PERMITS FILED FOR SINGLE-FAMILY DETACHED HOMES*

2009: 1,146**

2006: 3,082

* includes Orange County

** preliminary figures

--Source: Fredericksburg Area Builders Association

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE VACANCY RATES

2009 fourth quarter--retail, office, industrial: 7.8 percent, 13.1 percent, 21 percent

2007 second quarter--retail, office, industrial: 2 percent, 10.2 percent, 9.7 percent

--Source: Thalhimer/Cushman & Wakefield Alliance


6.3 percent

December 2009

2.5 percent

December 2006

--Source: Virginia Employment Commission

$3.25 billion

2009

$3.57 billion

2006

--Source: Virginia Department of Taxation

$202,000

2009

$332,250

2006

--Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

10,973

2009

18,392

2006

--Source: Virginia Automobile Dealers Association

$1.03 billion

2009

$1.86 billion

2006

--Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.