By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
West Virginia’s economy is continuing to improve, as shown by last year’s growth in total employment and wages and the declining unemployment rate.
The Labor Market Information unit of WorkForce West Virginia’s Research, Information and Analysis Division recently published the 2012 annual averages for the state’s labor force. Updated data is also published every quarter.
“WorkForce West Virginia collects, compiles and analyzes data that includes all workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance programs,” said Joe Jarvis, employment programs specialist with the agency. “WorkForce West Virginia tracks employment data and trends and maintains a website to assist employers currently within the state or those looking to locate here, as well as job seekers, grant writers, legislators and policymakers, among others.”
In the review of last year’s economic activity, WorkForce West Virginia reported that the state’s average annual unemployment rate in 2012 was 7.3 percent, showing a 0.5 percent drop from the 2011 rate of 7.8 percent. The last time the state saw an annual average this low was in 2008.
“The unemployment rate for the state is expected to continue to decline back to the pre-recession level,” said Dr. Amy Godfrey, assistant professor of economics at Fairmont State University. “However, this decline will be a slow one. West Virginia’s unemployment rate will continue to remain below the national average as the economy recovers with future growth occurring in the professional and business services industry through 2016.”