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Afternoon Read: MD, VA Unemployment Rates Well-Below National Average

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PM Read: MD, VA Unemployment Rates

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Both Maryland and Virginia’s unemployment rates are well below the national average of 8.2 percent, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In D.C., the unemployment rate remained at 9.8 percent, but the district reportedly added 400 jobs in March.

Maryland added 1,500 jobs in March—making it the seventh straight month in job growth.

But the unemployment rate still increased slightly from 6.5 to 6.6 percent because growth of the workforce outpaced employment gains.

The private sector drove job growth while government at the local, state and federal level shed jobs.

The Bureau also revised Maryland’s February job creation numbers to 9,600, from an initial estimate of 8,000.

In Virginia, the unemployment rate fell in March to 5.6 percent, the lowest it has been in more than three years.

The state added nearly 40,000 jobs in the past year.

Gov. McDonnell issued a press release Friday touting the lower unemployment rate.

"Virginia is growing strong again. Today we received word that the state unemployment rate has now declined for the fourth straight month. At 5.6% our unemployment rate is far below the national unemployment rate of 8.2%. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeastern United States. And we have fallen far below the 7.3% unemployment rate we inherited when taking office in January 2010. All of this means: more Virginians are working today. That is a good thing. It is a bipartisan accomplishment.” 

* The Department of Veteran Affairs said it was hiring approximately 1,900 more mental health workers in anticipation of the medical needs of veterans returning from war.

According to The Associated Press, the department plans to add about 1,600 clinicians, including psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers and about 300 support staff to an existing mental health staff of roughly 20,590.

Via the AP:

"As the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to anticipate the needs of returning veterans," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement. "History shows that the costs of war will continue to grow for a decade or more after the operational missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended. As more veterans return home, we must ensure that all veterans have access to quality mental health care."

* The Hill released its Veep Power rankings today, which scored Mitt Romney’s top potential vice-presidential picks based on the strength of the pick and the likelihood of it.

Sen. Marco Rubio came in at No. 1, followed by Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Virginia’s very own Gov. Bob McDonnell ranked sixth overall with a likelihood ranking of 3.

"Virginia is going to be close, he’s popular in the state, and some of that might rub off on Romney. Further, he’s got a strong record, is very conservative without seeming extreme, has a great family, and his daughter is in the military, which he can toss at people who say he’s too 1950’s.

But he has problems.

Most acutely, Romney does not need somebody named “Bob” on his ticket nor somebody named “McDonnell” – particularly when this Bob McDonnell seems so much like a Bob McDonnell. In his case, the name corresponds to the personality which makes him a much less interesting version of Superman or Batman.”

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