Economic Impact: Good reasons for retail sales to be strong for this year's holiday shopping season

By the appearance inside many stores at malls and shopping centers, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This is the time of year that represents about 20 percent of the retail industry's total sales. And based on recent announcements by some national retailers of plans to hire more seasonal workers than last year, it looks like the chains are optimistic about the upcoming holiday shopping season. And there is good reason for that optimism.

Economic Impact: Virginia receives a grant to create a Defense Department contract spending impact tool

Virginia’s dependence on defense contracts puts it in both an enviable and awkward position. It’s enviable because firms in the state received more revenue from defense contracts performed than any other state, except California, in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2017. It’s awkward because with 4.4 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product dependent on defense contracts, the state’s economy can take a hit during defense downsizing — as it did in 2013. During that year, employment stalled in Virginia and grew only 0.7 percent, compared with 1.6 percent growth nationally.