Richmond economic forecast: "Partly Sunny"

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – What is the job outlook for 2011 in the Richmond area? That question is on the minds of the thousands of job seekers looking for work every day. The Greater Richmond Partnership, whose sole goal is to promote the region to businesses, is cautiously optimistic about 2011's economic picture.

While job seekers may have to make some changes when it comes to their approach and skills, right now, the forecast is "partly sunny." Like a heat wave in the middle of winter, the partnership's forecast is good news to Elda Stewart. She's only had a job for four months of the last year and a half.

"That's better than saying it's partly cloudy," she said. "That's like saying the milk glass is half empty versus half full. You know, you gotta be positive."

But staying positive isn't always easy. Stewart has been on interview after interview, but so far not one has resulted in an offer.

"I can't really let myself get too down about it because once you start doing that then it's hard to get yourself back up," she explained. "The more interviews you go to the harder it is to get excited about it."

Stewart's story is familiar but Sara Dunnigan with the partnership said it looks like there will be more to get excited about soon.

"I think employers are still really cautious to add employees but we definitely see as their business is increasing, there's an urgency and demand is building," she explained.

The partnership's website currently lists 21,000 opportunities. Dunnigan is seeing gains in finance, insurance, information technology and healthcare positions.

She explained those looking for work may have to come to the realization Stewart came to Wednesday morning.

"I'm starting to get to the point where I think about 'gee, do I have to reinvent myself as something else,'" she wondered.

A reinvention could be achieved through new training and looking at opportunities you may not have considered in the past.

"I think 2011 is going to be an alignment between the workforce that we've got here and the job openings that we're going to see," Dunnigan said.

Twitter is another helpful resource.  The handle "RichmondJobNet" has almost 3,000 followers and has sent out about 22,000 job leads.

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