West Virginia Jobs 2016
West Virginia lost 11 thousand jobs during the recession that ran from the fall of 2008 until spring of 2010, but recovered those losses by 2012 when statewide employment reached its high of 765.2 thousand jobs. However, since 2012 statewide employment has declined by 17.4 thousand jobs to 747.8 thousand jobs in 2016. Even though jobs recovered to their pre-recession totals, the recent decline leaves West Virginia with a 2.3 percent loss of statewide employment. That makes West Virginia one of nine states with a loss of jobs since the 2008-2010 recession. Only two states had a bigger percentage loss of jobs than West Virginia. Those losses came even though national employment increased from 132 million to just under 138 million jobs during the same years.
After reaching a statewide high in 2012, West Virginia had a decrease in jobs in the lumber and mining industries, construction, manufacturing, wholesale-retail trade, financial activities, and a combination of repair and maintenance services, personal services, and non-profit associations. By 2016 the combined loss in these sectors was 26.3 thousand jobs.
Health Care, Government, and private education offset some of the losses with 6.9 thousand new jobs. An additional 700 hundred jobs in transportation and warehousing, a hundred jobs in information services, 800 jobs in business and professional services, mostly support services, and 400 jobs in restaurants bring the total job gains to 8.9 thousand jobs for those industries with any new jobs. Combining the gains of 8.9 thousand with the losses 26.3 thousand accounts for the net loss of 17.4 thousand jobs.
The prospects for job growth remain poor.
Back in 1990 West Virginia had 34 thousand jobs in lumber and mining, mostly coal mining, which was 5.4 percent of statewide employment. It was still 34 thousand in 2012 but the total was down to 4.4 percent of statewide jobs. By 2016 only 20 thousand jobs remained with a 2.7 percent share of statewide employment. Almost all of the job loss in lumber and mining came in the last four years. The sudden loss of jobs makes the decline more noticeable, but a 2.7 percent share for lumber and mining keeps West Virginia well above the national percentage of 1.7 percent for these jobs. There are only 50.3 thousand coal mining jobs left in the entire United States and they continue to fall month to month. West Virginia will not be able to hold onto its current coal jobs, much less increase them.
West Virginia has a smaller share of statewide employment than the national economy in all but three industry sub-sectors: health care, government service for the federal, state, and local government, and repair, maintenance, and personal services. Combined these three industries have 43.8 percent of West Virginia employment. Combined health care and government service had a 1.5 percent increase in the share of statewide jobs from 2012 to 2016. Only three other sub sectors had any percentage increase – business support services, private education, restaurants – and their total increase was .7 percent less than half of the health care and government increase.
West Virginia continues to lose jobs in all the same sectors as the national economy, but does not generate more jobs in the sectors doing well in the national economy. For example, professional and technical services have 6.2 percent of national jobs, but only 3.3 percent in West Virginia. In the national economy professional and technical services provide a major source of new jobs adding 30 to 60 thousand jobs a month, but in West Virginia the total has remained at or below 25 thousand jobs for over a decade with no growth.
In the national economy leisure and hospitality, especially restaurants, provide a major source of new jobs. They are often low paid jobs, but the West Virginia economy has not been generating many low paid jobs. Leisure and hospitality have only 9.9 percent of statewide employment, a percent below the national average. Worse their 2016 employment in this sector has not budged above 74 thousand jobs in the last four years.
In the national economy administrative support services provide a major source of new jobs. Administrative support services have 6.3 percent of jobs in the national economy but only 4.6 percent in West Virginia. These are jobs at employment services, telemarketing bureaus, security and armored car services, janitorial services, landscaping and a few more. They were 32.4 thousand in 2012 that reached their statewide high in 2016, but still only 34 thousand jobs.
In the national economy government services have 15.4 percent of national employment, but 20.9 percent of statewide West Virginia employment. All three levels of government employment – federal, state, local – have higher shares in West Virginia than the national economy. In the national economy health care has 13.2 percent of national employment, but 15.4 percent of West Virginia jobs. With so many industries in decline new jobs in health care and government services elevate their relative importance to new heights.
Between 2012 and 2016 the Bureau of the Census reports West Virginia had a drop in statewide population of 25.5 thousand. Given the prospects for jobs, we might consider them the smart ones; they left. In a recent news story the Governor of West Virginia announced he was leaving the Democratic Party to join the Republicans. Soon after Trump came to cheer him on with a rant through his well worn list of personal grudges. He did not tell the crowd their only hope for new jobs and a better economy lies with health care and government service. A good policy for jobs would tax the rich to pay for infra structure construction and generate government service jobs, especially social services. Wild, miserable West Virginia.