RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Consumer spending in Virginia is higher than it was before the Great Recession but is lagging behind the nation in spending growth. New state-level figures released Thursday by the federal government for the first time show that Virginia’s per capita consumer spending in 2012 grew 2.9 percent over the previous year. That’s weaker than the 3.3 percent growth in per capita consumer spending by the entire nation in 2012, the most recent year figures are available. Consumer spending has soared since the Great Recession ended five years ago in U.S. states with oil and gas drilling booms, and has lagged in states hit especially hard by the housing bust. On average, each Virginian spent $38,133 on consumer goods and services in 2012. Per capita spending nationwide was $35,498.