Greater Richmond, Virginia’s multifamily development market is growing at an exponential rate. According to Costar, the first quarter of 2020 marked three of the past four quarters in which more than 5,000 units were under construction, a new record for the region. Multifamily development

Currently, there are over 86,500 multifamily units in Richmond, with an additional 5,200 units under construction. The percentage (6%) is double the quarterly average and the highest since 2010. This number triples similar cities with denser populations and mirrors larger cities such as Washington, D.C., Seattle and Austin, Texas.

Migration influx

Development rates directly correlate to migration influx as Greater Richmond gains on average 200 new residents per week. While Richmond remains the fourth largest city in the state, its population grew the most with a 12 percent increase between 2010 and 2018. The counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico increased 9.9, 7.3 and 7.1 percent, respectively.

Richmond has become an international destination as well, currently housing over 220 companies from upwards of 26 countries. Diversity feeds into Richmond’s rich culture, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 16 percent of Virginians now speak a language other than English in the home.

Job prospects

As more companies relocate to the area, competitive talent is following suit. Job outlooks are positive as employment rates in the U.S. are only slightly higher than the 50 year low we saw in 2019, sitting at 3.6 percent. Although job opportunities are largely regional, Richmond has become a top destination for jobseekers. Virginia is expected to add over 150,000 STEM jobs over the next five years.

Richmond is an attractive location for telecommuting with access to essential data cables and networks combined with fast internet speeds creating the perfect environment for cybersecurity and data employees. Additionally, Richmond is more affordable compared to other metros with the same convenience.

Quality of life

Quality of life in Greater Richmond is a critical component of attracting new residents. Greater Richmond offers the cultural and recreational opportunities of larger cities with minimal traffic congestion. The average commute time in Greater Richmond is 25 minutes.

The cost of living index is also highly competitive, sitting below the national average at 93.9 percent. The average cost of a new home is $301,136.

Additionally, Richmond has an array of public transportation options, a robust food and beverage scene and vibrant arts and culture. It was recently named one of the top destinations to visit in the world by the NY Times.

Concentrations of development

Most of the recent multifamily development is clustered in Richmond city but eight of the metropolitan’s submarkets have units under construction.

Chesterfield and Henrico counties collectively represent nearly 50 percent of the construction stock under Greater Richmond’s umbrella.

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Greater Richmond among top places for jobseekers

As we enter 2020, employment rates in the U.S. are sitting at 3.6 percent, which is just slightly higher than the 50-year low of 3.5 percent we witnessed in 2019. Although this is good news for job seekers, job availability depends largely on location.

If you currently live in Greater Richmond or are considering relocating, you’re in luck. The Wall Street Journal counted the region as one of the 15 cities moving up the job market rankings. WalletHub also named Richmond to its shortlist of ‘Best Cities for Jobseekers’ based on 31 key indicators of job-market strength.

Recent graduates

College graduates can expect a noticeable increase in job prospects. Employers plan to hire 5.8 percent more members from the class of 2020 than from previous years, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

This is excellent news for the Richmond Region, which is home to nearly 30 colleges and universities producing a steady stream of employees for new and expanding companies in fields including business, engineering, law and medicine. The most well-known four-year institutions including Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, Randolph-Macon College, Virginia Union University and Virginia State University.

Reynolds and John Tyler Community Colleges also directly feed into the workforce, offering two-year associates, technical and certificate degree programs.

The Richmond Region has maintained a highly-educated workforce, with 90 percent of the population 25 and older holding a high school degree or higher, and 37 percent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Despite a competitive market, economic development has led to an increased demand for skilled workers making this an ideal location for applicants.

According to national averages, 2019 graduates with a bachelor’s degree could expect to earn $51,347 annually. This number is up two percent from 2018.

2020 job outlook

U.S. News recently ranked the ‘100 best jobs’ in the U.S., putting software developer, dentist, physician assistant, orthodontist and nurse practitioner in the top five. They predict STEM+H to have the most significant growth across all job markets.

This forecast aligns with the Richmond Region, which top areas of growth for STEM+H professions include registered nurses, software developers, computer system analysts and information security analysts.

Quality of life

Those considering the Richmond Region will have more than job prospects to look forward to: the regional cost of living is five percent below the national average and housing costs were 15 percent lower in 2019.

Richmond also offers an abundance of recreation and leisure, a robust food and beverage scene and vibrant arts and culture.

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Situated in the heart of Virginia, Richmond is one of only 20 cities in the U.S. where population growth is evenly split between domestic and international migration. On average, since 2010 the Greater Richmond region has gained over 200 new residents per week.

While Richmond remains Virginia’s fourth-largest city, its population grew the most across the state with a 12 percent increase between 2010 and 2018. The counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico increased 9.9, 7.3 and 7.1 percent, respectively. Greater Richmond also surpassed the U.S. national average for domestic and international migration.

This population growth has directly fed into the skilled labor force, creating an ideal market for international companies looking to hire fresh, young talent. In addition to the labor force, Greater Richmond offers residents a high quality of life centered around its diverse culture.

Welcoming to global businesses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 16 percent of Virginians now speak a language other than English in the home. In the Richmond Region, the most common foreign languages include Spanish, Arabic, French and Chinese.

Day schools are a popular option for international residents aiming to immerse their children in their respective cultures. Richmond houses the Central Virginia Chinese School; Nihongo Hoshuuko, a Japanese day school; and Rudlin, a Hebrew day school. These schools operate on weekends and help children retain cultural and native language skills.

The region has a long-standing record of success attracting international companies, housing more than 220 companies from 26 countries including Brazil, the UK, Canada and France. Success stories include companies like Mavalerio, BGB Technology Inc. and ITL Virginia, Inc.

The Greater Richmond Partnership offers a Global Assistance Program (GAP) that provides international firms with a team of local, well-qualified business service providers who can offer expert advice and as-needed support. GAP can assist in various scenarios like finding the right lawyer, accountant or insurance agent.

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An affordable option

Recent data shows that Richmond has remained a desired destination for domestic migration. Net migration has increased from metropolitan areas like Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., and New York. The median age of those moving here is 26.

Population growth and business development boost every segment of the region’s economy, providing business opportunities for a wide array of firms. Community development, quality of life and the arts have all benefited, along with the quality of jobs and employment opportunities for current and new residents alike.

Read why you should relocate to Greater Richmond

The Richmond Region’s advertising/creative sector is home to nationally-recognized powerhouses such as the Martin Agency and Padilla as well as notable niche agencies, including the West Cary Group, Wildfire, and Arts and Letters Creative Co.

However, Richmond doesn’t just attract creatives, it nurtures them.

The Greater Richmond area is home to four public institutions with creative departments including Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, Virginia Union University and Virginia State University. These institutions partner with local agencies to provide hands-on experience through internships and apprenticeships, creating a well-rounded and competitive entry-level workforce.

Most notably, Richmond houses the VCU Brandcenter. Founded in 1995, the Brandcenter is routinely named among top advertising programs in the country. It carries an impressive list of alumni. This past year, seven Brandcenter alumni made the Adweek creative 100 list which ranks the most fascinating people in marketing, media and culture. Brandcenter graduates have gone on to work with global brands such as Google, ESPN and Fanta. Alumni continually distinguish themselves as decorated industry leaders.

In 2019 alone, VCU Brandcenter alumni developed six advertisements that aired during the Superbowl LIII, including Coca-Cola: “A Coke is a Coke” and Pringles: “Sad Device.” These advertisers were joined in Super Bowl prestige by the Martin Agency who most recently aired campaigns for GolfNow in 2018.

Headquartered in Richmond, the Martin Agency, a subsidiary of Interpublic, is most well known for its Geico campaigns and keen knack for leveraging humor, including their caveman and gecko commercials. This holiday season they received praise in Forbes magazine for its work on an Oreo commercial. Mondelez, Oreo’s parent company, has a production facility here in Greater Richmond.

Collectively, 2019 was a big year for the Greater Richmond advertising scene, filled with some major projects and collaborations with national brands.

As we enter a new year, expect to see more creatives entering the market. Richmond has attracted a wide array of journalists, graphic designers, copywriters and brand strategist working in tandem to meet market needs. Living in a city with such rich culture, history and diversity, it’s no wonder that we attract, retain and nurture so many talented creatives. With Super Bowl LIV just around the corner, it will be interesting to see what Richmond-based entities will land media spots and ultimately raise the bar for competition nationwide.

Read more about RVA's creative class

Along with Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Greater Richmond is part of the ‘golden crescent’ that forms between government and military installations in Virginia. This locational advantage provides a good mid-point for suppliers, vendors and contractors that may serve multiple clients – and employers seeking veteran experience. Thousands of military personnel and spouses are stationed at the Pentagon, Fort Lee in Prince George, Fort Belvoir in Fairfax, Quantico and the Norfolk Naval Base.

Virginia has 27 military bases and 89,300 active duty personnel, with 12,000 exiting the service annually. The Virginia Department of Veterans Services reports that up to two-thirds of those separating would remain in Virginia if an attractive job could be found, and they are often willing to relocate around the state if the new area offers a desirable quality of life and cost of living. Forty-seven percent of those personnel separating have training and skills in occupations key to the manufacturing sector.

While there are higher numbers of exiting veterans in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, Greater Richmond is a popular destination for in-migration. Both of these metro areas have thousands of residents leaving for the Richmond Region on an annual basis. This makes recruiting veterans from these two parts of the state to Richmond relatively easy.

Two state-led programs assist veterans with the transition to civilian careers:

  • Military2Manufacturing (M2M) offers world-class career resources to help veterans start a private sector career in advanced technology industries such as manufacturing. The M2M career pathway helps recently separated veterans to convert past military experience and training into industry-recognized credentials and access job opportunities. M2M is a military transition training program, using the Manufacturing Technician Level 1 (MT1) Certificate Program to help document manufacturing work readiness.
  • Virginia Transition Assistance Program (VTAP) offers transitioning service members and their spouses the best Virginia has to offer. By providing peer-to-peer support through the transition process, VTAP works alongside the transitioning service member or spouse to make referrals that address specific needs. The referral services could include (but is not limited to) resume review, introduction to the Virginia Labor Market index, connection with the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) certified companies for employment, and other Dept. of Veteran Services programs as applicable. The VTAP core areas of focus are those seeking employment, education, and entrepreneurship, but we will also assist those with needs outside of those three core areas.

The Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Employment Commission are committed to assisting transitioning military and veterans to be productive in the civilian workforce through the “Hire a Veteran” program. Local companies seeking veteran workforce include Capital One, Bank of America, Brinks, Dominion and Northrop Grumman are on the VEC’s list of military-friendly employers.

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Richmond’s labor force hits all-time high in 2019

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the size of the Richmond Metro Statistical Area’s labor force hit its peak, exceeding 700,000 for the first time ever. The Richmond, Va. MSA grew to 703,525 in July 2019 with employment reaching the highest its ever been at 682,096. Since 1990, the region’s continuous population growth and economic diversification has led the labor force to increase by 196,000 (39%). Warehousing and storage, ambulatory health care services, and administrative and support services were the top three industries driving Richmond’s labor force to its all-time high.

Then and Now

Over the past seven years, the Richmond MSA has seen its best civilian labor force and employment numbers. The region has broken its own records for the highest number of civilian labor force and employment for four consecutive years with 2018 and 2019 having one of the lowest unemployment numbers and rates on record.

Richmond’s lowest number of unemployment was in 2000 with only 11,617 and the unemployment rate standing at 2.1%. Today, the unemployment rate is 3.0% with 21,419 unemployed – both being the lowest in the past decade with the unemployment labor force ranking the 11th lowest on record. Although Richmond’s unemployment is 3.0%, it’s still significantly lower than the national average which stands at 3.7% as of August 2019.

From 2010 to 2018, the Greater Richmond region’s population grew by 200 residents each week. Over the eight-year period, the region saw a 9% growth in its population, adding 85,000 net new residents to the area. According to the American Community Survey 2012 – 2016, roughly 10,200 individuals moved from Washington, D.C., to Greater Richmond. More than 7,300 people moved from the Hampton Roads Region, 3,200 moved from New York and 1,800 moved from Charlottesville, Va. This increased number of residents into the Richmond Region has greatly contributed to the area’s ever-growing civilian labor force.

Top Job Producing Industries

Since July 2018, the number of jobs increased by 7,335 for the Richmond MSA, with the top 10 job creating industries accounting for approximately 97% of this increase. The three industries that led the Richmond Region in job creation were warehousing and storage, ambulatory health care, and administrative and support services.

Warehousing and storage is the No. 1 job producing industry in Greater Richmond, accounting for approximately 1,214 new jobs in the region. Warehousing and storage is responsible for a total of 105,520 jobs and it’s the 9th top U.S. job producing industry. Major companies such as Amazon, trucking company Western Express, produce distributor Coastal Sunbelt, and ocean freight mover Ocean Network Express accounted for much of the area’s new opportunities. The recently-announced Amazon fulfillment center in the City of Richmond and the Ocean Network Express North American HQ expansion have contributed to hundreds of new jobs.

Ambulatory health care services are the region’s and the nation’s No. 2 top job producing industry with 1,038 net new jobs in the area and a total of 208,794 new jobs nationally. This is a 3% and 2.6%, respectively, change in new jobs since 2018. The industry includes physicians’ offices and health care provided through outpatient services. VCU Health has contributed to this industry’s job increase in the region with the VCU Health ambulatory health center and has announced it’s ground-breaking of a new $349 million outpatient facility.

Administrative and support services accounted for 765 new jobs in the region and is the No. 3 top job producing industry in Richmond. The industry is the 7th top job producing industry in the U.S. with 113,975 new jobs created between 2018 and 2019. The industry had a 2% increase regionally and 1.2% increase nationally in the number of net new jobs.

Four other top 10 job producing industries in the Richmond Region and the U.S. are food services and drinking places, educational services, specialty trade contractors, and couriers and messengers. Food services and drinking places were responsible for 628 regional and 169,162 national new jobs. Educational services had 619 new jobs in the region and 111,286 new jobs in the U.S. Specialty trade contractors accounted for 553 new Richmond jobs with the nation having 156,897. Lastly, couriers and messengers brought in 527 new regional jobs along with 73,618 nationally.

Losing Industries

The top three job losing industries in the Richmond Region are insurance carriers and related activities, general merchandising stores, and sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores. The region’s reduction of brick and mortar retail stores are also among the top ten job losing industries in the U.S. Combined, these industries caused 1,500+ jobs to be lost in the Greater Richmond region.

Insurance carriers and related activities is the leading industry causing the largest number of lost jobs in the area. Although this industry had the highest number of jobs lost in the region in 2019, it was among the nation’s top 25 leading job producers accounting for slightly over 25,000 new jobs in the U.S. Whole sale electronics, merchandising, and sport, music, hobby, and book stores are the nation’s largest job losing industries. This reduction of retail of “brick and mortar” stores has accounted for nearly 250,000 job losses in the U.S. with Richmond accounting for less than 1% of the national total. Telecommunications and clothing accessory stores were other contributing industries causing both regional and nation decreases in jobs.

Workforce & Training

Greater Richmond’s ideal location, Fortune 1000 companies and unique startups, and various industries make finding a job smooth. Virginia is the nation’s top state for business, which provides Richmond with a solid business foundation where company giants and small businesses in many industries can flourish. The region’s record-low unemployment rates and diverse booming industries ranging from advanced manufacturing to bioscience, express that transitioning jobs in the region is less painful compared to other regions.

The metro area is a magnet for labor, drawing a workforce from more than 40 localities statewide. A combination of diverse industries with numerous educational institutions provide an ample workforce with positive work attitudes and a range of skills and experience. Through nearly 30 colleges and universities, the region offers a highly-educated workforce, with 90% of the population 25 and older holding a high school degree or higher, and 37% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Workforce programs include the Virginia is for Learner’s initiative, which is designed to change the future of learning in Virginia to meet the needs of students and suit the needs of modern employers. With unemployment low, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and Virginia Community College System (VCCS) leaders have collaborated to craft a shared vision for a custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program in Virginia. It’ll encompass a custom workforce incentive program in lieu of Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) for prospects who voice a preference for a full-service option. For competitive projects, one of Virginia’s strategies to achieve this outcome is to offer the choice of:

  • A VJIP grant for those companies that want to execute their own workforce recruitment and training efforts, or
  • The new custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program

Learn about Workforce assets

State officials recently launched the “Virginia is for Learners” initiative to improve the education standards of the commonwealth’s residents. According to Gov. Ralph Northam, “This initiative is designed to change the future of learning in Virginia to meet the needs of students and suit the needs of modern employers.”

The initiative involves six key components:

  • New high school graduation requirements and career pathways guarantees graduates have the skills identified by employers.
  • A stronger focus on deeper learning provides students with a focused look at critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship skills.
  • An increased emphasis on early childhood education prepares children to become lifelong learners.
  • Modernizing the Virginia standards of learning to create new testing approaches that limit the number of high-stakes tests.
  • New standards of accreditation for Virginia schools eliminates achievement gaps and warrant continuous school improvements.
  • Maximizing the potential of all students may reduce poverty, racism and continue economic advancements for all students.

The initiative will bolster the testing advancements already made by Virginia’s students. According to the Cato Institute, school systems in the state have scored well across the board in academic performance, safety, class size, funding and instructor credentials.

According to Va. Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, “Virginia is for Learners is our vehicle for communicating and engaging with the public about the changes happening in their schools and promoting future reforms to build on our momentum. If we work together, we can prepare every student for a successful career in the economy of the future.”

This statewide initiative follows news that one of Richmond’s very own instructors, Virgie Binford Education Center’s Rodney Robinson, was named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The Social Studies and History teacher will travel nationally and internationally as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession, exemplifying Greater Richmond’s education system.

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Labor shed provides additional workforce draw

Businesses in the Richmond, Virginia, metro area draw labor from 38 counties in central Virginia – an area with 2.1 million population and a workforce of 1.1 million.

The area’s primary labor shed includes 17 communities, bringing the civilian workforce to nearly 678,000. These localities contribute at least 2,500 workers daily to the Richmond MSA’s labor force.

The secondary labor shed includes 21 counties with 866,000 population and a workforce of 428,000, provide at least 500 residents to the Richmond MSA workforce. Secondary counties spread south to the North Carolina border along I-85, west to Charlottesville along I-64, north to Stafford on I-95 and east to Gloucester on I-64.

One big reason for the large geographic labor draw is the region’s interstate network which provides comfortable commuting patterns. Automobile travel is the primary transportation source for suburban and rural workers, allowing employees to commute to non-targeted commute patterns.

For workers within the GRP represented communities of the City of Richmond and counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico, the daily commute averages 25 minutes. The Texas Transportation Institute has even listed the Richmond Region as the least congested large city in the U.S.

The region’s population has increased by 7 percent since 2010, adding 20,300 additional residents annually, and the labor force has increased by 11 percent, adding 14,200 new workers annually.

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