D.C. dependence cramping Virginia economy, business ranking


UH-OH: Virginia’s dependence on neighboring Washington, D.C., isn’t always a positive.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — It’s no secret Virginia’s economy is propped up largely by the federal government.

As Virginia’s toppling from fifth to eighth in CNBC’s Top States for Business rankings released Tuesday showed, dependence on the federal government isn’t always a blessing. The slowing in military spending, in particular, is pinching Virginia’s business climate.

“We have to make Virginia more attractive to industries not attached to the partisan battles in Washington,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said shortly before he took office in January.

That, however, is going to take work. Total federal spending per person in Virginia through military spending, federal contracts and other forms of assistance have doubled since 2000, according to another new report by the watchdog arm of the General Assembly. Like it or not, here is Virginia’s dependence on Washington as of 2012, by the numbers.

1 in 2 — The number of all Virginians who are direct recipients of federal spending via assistance programs, retirement benefits or federal jobs

Second — Virginia’s rank in terms of how much the federal government spends per capita, topped only by Alaska

$16,923 — Federal spending for every person in Virginia

44 percent — The percentage of all federal spending in the commonwealth that’s on military contracts and personnel

1 in 4 — The number of Virginians on income assistance programs or Medicaid

16.4 percent — The percentage of Virginians on SNAP, also known as food stamps

1.1 million — Number of federal or military employees on payroll or receiving military health care benefits

$1,100 — The funds per person that Virginia state government received from the federal government in 2012, the least per capita in the nation

$75,000 — Average household income in Virginia for non-military households

$62,000 — Average income for military households in Virginia

$125,000 — Average household income for federal employees in Virginia

— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau, and can be reached at kwatson@watchdog.org.