Justice, business leaders praise West Virginia’s unemployment numbers
CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice and the state’s leading organization of business leaders praised the West Virginia’s August unemployment numbers — the lowest in 11 years.
According to Workforce West Virginia, the seasonally adjusted unemployment for West Virginia for the month of August was 4.6 percent. It’s the lowest the state’s unemployment rate has been since October 2008, breaking a record for the decade.
“When you think back to before I walked in the door, it was tough; that’s all there is to it,” Justice said in a statement Wednesday. “Now, we’re finally starting to tell our story; that West Virginia is the perfect place to live and work in paradise.”
West Virginia’s civilian labor force grew by more than 2,000 jobs, from 793,400 jobs in July to 795,700 jobs in August. That’s a 12,900 increase in jobs since August 2018, when the state had a 5.1 percent unemployment rate.
The state saw total non-farm payroll employment grow over the last 12 months by 5,100 jobs to 735,000, total employment grew by 16,300 to 758,900, and private sector employment grew by 6,500 to 583,100. Much of that growth comes from construction, which grew by 3,200 jobs to 47,000.
Also adding to that growth was the educational and health services field, growing by 3,000 jobs to 131,800.
“Businesses are realizing West Virginia is the diamond in the rough that they may have missed in a lot of ways,” Justice said. “Now, with that realization, we hope to see more and more businesses choose West Virginia as a place to grow and bring more jobs along with them.”
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce was quick to tout the latest employment numbers, pointing out that these are the best numbers since the state’s unemployment numbers peaked in 2015.
“Like in previous monthly reports, we are seeing that the job growth is continuing to spread out over more sectors, signaling the important diversification of the state’s economy,” said Steve Roberts, president of the chamber. “With strong job growth like we are seeing now, West Virginia is becoming poised to compete with any other state in the nation.”
One area that saw a drop in employment was the mining and logging sector, which saw a loss of 300 jobs over the last 12 months to 22,600. Even a mine preparation plant purchased by the Justice family in July and reopened in August has already shut down, laying off 12 employees due to a drop in metallurgical coal prices.
September unemployment numbers could also be affected by the recent closures at the Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, which laid off more than 730 employees earlier this month.
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at email@example.com