Axios Richmond

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๐Ÿ‘ป Boo! It's Monday.

โ˜€๏ธ Today's weather: Sunny with a high near 80.

๐ŸŽง Sounds like: "Let it Go" by Keyshia Cole, Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim.

๐Ÿšจ Situational awareness: The General Assembly reconvenes today for a special session to approve the state budget after agreeing to start a new one last month.

Today's newsletter is 921 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Our "true" unemployment rate

A bar chart showing the U.S. metro areas with the highest and lowest True Rate of Unemployment in 2023. The measure shows the share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage).
Note: Share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage); Data: Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Richmond area was among the major U.S. metros with a low rate of true unemployment last year, according to a study from the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity.

Why it matters: The True Rate of Unemployment measures the proportion of workers looking for a full-time job that pays a living wage, not just any wage โ€” and who are unable to find one, Axios' Felix Salmon reports.

State of play: Richmond metro had a true unemployment rate of 19.2% in 2023, compared to its 3% official rate last year, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Richmond's true rate is significantly better than the Charlottesville (32%), Blacksburg (25.7%) and Roanoke (19.8%) metros.
  • Virginia Beach (18.6%) and the D.C. metro (17.9%) had us beat.
  • Nationwide, the True Unemployment rate is 24.2%; it averaged 23% in 2023.

How it works: The think tank's proprietary system measures the proportion of workers looking for and unable to find a full-time job that pays more than $25,000 per year.

Worth noting: The living wage in Richmond is $25.38 an hour for two working adults with two children the MIT living wage calculator shows.

The bottom line: There are plenty of good jobs in America โ€” but they're not evenly distributed.

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2. ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ Your cheat sheet to the June primaries

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Early voting for Virginia's June congressional primaries is underway.

Why it matters: The outcomes will determine the candidates going head-to-head in November, and the winners of those elections will represent you in Congress.

The big picture: All of Virginia's 11 U.S. House of Representatives seats are up for grabs.

  • So is one of its two spots in the Senate: Sen. Tim Kaine's seat.
  • Since there's no one challenging Kaine for the Democratic nomination, there's no Democratic primary in June.
  • But there are five Republicans hoping to take Kaine on.

Between the lines: This means Richmonders only have a Senate Republican primary to vote for this time around, since Democratic Rep. Jennifer McClellan โ€” whose 4th District includes Richmond โ€” is running unopposed.

  • Sen. Mark Warner's seat is up for election in 2026.

Yes, but: Richmond-area races are heating up.

1st District

Area: Parts of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties among others.

Democrats:

Republicans:

  • Rep. Rob Wittman (incumbent).

5th District

Area: Mostly a Charlottesville-area district but includes parts of Goochland, Hanover and Powhatan.

Democrats:

Republicans:

The Republicans wanting Kaine's spot:

Keep reading for key dates, where to vote and what we're watching

3. ๐ŸŒŠ The Current: City sued over Diamond financing change

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

โš–๏ธ Local attorney Paul Goldman filed a lawsuit against the city challenging its approval of the financing change for the Diamond District that puts the city on the hook for a new baseball stadium. (BizSense)

  • Goldman is pushing for a referendum to allow voters to weigh in.

๐Ÿ—๏ธ Subcontractors building affordable housing apartments in South Richmond stopped work because they say the Massachusetts-based developer hasn't paid them since October and owes them $1.1 million. (WRIC)

  • A spokesperson for the developer attributed the delay to budget shortfalls due to COVID-era material costs and said they're working on it.

๐Ÿฅ VCU Health is planning a $1 billion, 15-year reimagining of its downtown campus that includes a new dental school, expanded hospital and new student housing. (Times-Dispatch)

4. Virginia school board votes to restore schools' Confederate names

Workers removing Richmond's Stonewall Jackson statue on Monument Avenue in June 2020. Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/AFP/Getty Images

A Virginia school board voted Friday to reinstate the Confederate names of two public schools that were changed following racial justice protests in 2020.

Why it matters: The Shenandoah County School Board's decision appears to be the first to take such action since officials began removing Confederate symbols four years ago.

The big picture: The 5-1 vote overturns the board's 2020 decision to change the local elementary and high schools' association with Confederate leaders Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Turner Ashby.

  • Mountain View High School will be renamed after Stonewall Jackson, and Honey Run Elementary will once again be Ashby-Lee.

Zoom in: The Coalition for Better Schools, a local conservative group, pushed for the move, saying "that revisiting this decision is essential to honor our community's heritage and respect the wishes of the majority."

Background: Ty Seidule's book about the Lost Cause details how 20th-century era statues to Jackson and other Confederate leaders symbolized racial terror, as white southerners embraced a revisionist history about the Civil War.

Read the full story

Become a Newsroom Insider

Illustration: Andrew Caress/Axios

Knowledge is power, and we believe in empowering our community through reliable, local journalism.

Join our membership program for just $50+ a year, and you can support our efforts to keep you in the know of what's happening around town.

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Together, we can ensure our neighbors stay informed.

5. Pic du jour: VCU graduation walkout

Over 100 graduating VCU students walked out of their graduation ceremony Saturday in protest of Gov. Youngkin as the commencement speaker. Photo: Fadel Allassan/Axios

More than 100 graduating VCU students walked out of their ceremony Saturday in protest of Gov. Youngkin as the commencement speaker.

State of play: Graduates who walked out did so in opposition to Youngkin's DEI stance, plus the governor's support for universities breaking up on-campus pro-Palestinian encampments, per the Times-Dispatch.

  • Those pro-Palestinian campus protests included one two weeks ago at VCU that ended with 13 arrests after law enforcement intervened with pepper spray and riot shields.
  • Graduates told RTD on Saturday they were also protesting a Youngkin request to review the syllabi for a potential racial literacy course requirement at VCU, which the school's board voted Friday to reject.
  • His administration's K-12 transgender policies, Republican-led effort to remove some books from K-12 schools and his opposition to critical race theory were other issues the grads were protesting.

Zoom in: Around 1,200 graduates were at the university-wide ceremony Saturday, per RTD.

  • Roughly 50 of the more than 100 students who walked out of the ceremony at the Richmond Convention Center joined a Pro-Palestinian march to nearby Abner Clay Park.

๐Ÿ˜ฌ Karri bought her (spoiled) dog some long-lasting bones on Amazon โ€” that she's now scared might be the horn of an endangered species, so she's just going to turn herself into PETA and beg forgiveness.

๐Ÿคจ Sabrina is really doubting these bones are real because who is selling actual animal horns as a four-for-$25 deal? Feels like a terrible business plan.

  • But also where's PETA when you need them?

This newsletter was edited by Fadel Allassan and copy edited by Carlin Becker.