Virginia unemployment claims hit 43-year low

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, file photo, a sign attracts job-seekers during a job fair at the Marriott Hotel in Colonie, N.Y. The Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for July 2015 on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Unemployment claims filed in Virginia last year were at their lowest level in more than 40 years.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced Tuesday that Virginia’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for December, and that the 178,400 initial claims filed in 2016 was the lowest number since 1973.

McAuliffe said the figures show the state’s economy is growing.

But despite having a low unemployment rate, the state’s overall economic growth continues to lag behind the country’s growth rate. McAuliffe and state lawmakers are currently grappling with a more than $1 billion budget deficit brought on by lower than-expected state income tax revenues. National defense cuts have led to fewer high-paying jobs, while younger, lower-paid workers are replacing retiring baby boomers.