The Times West Virginian

October 14, 2012

Declining unemployment

WorkForce West Virginia predicts growth in overall employment

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — WorkForce West Virginia sees declining unemployment rates and growth in overall employment in the state’s future.

The Labor Market Information unit of WorkForce West Virginia’s Research, Information and Analysis Division recently published labor force estimates for the state for August 2012.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.7 percent over the past year, dropping from 8.2 percent in August 2011 to 7.5 percent in August of this year.

“While there has been little change in the civilian labor force over the year, an increase in total employment offset a decline in total unemployment, thus causing a drop in the unemployment rate,” said Joe Jarvis, employment programs specialist with WorkForce West Virginia.

But the rate went up slightly — 0.2 percent — compared to July 2012, when it was 7.3 percent.

“September and October should see rates at or slightly below the current unemployment rate,” he said. “Declining unemployment rates are typical in the fall.”

The national unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in August, down from 8.3 percent in July and 9.1 percent last August.

From July to August 2012, West Virginia experienced an increase of 1,100 unemployed residents, with total unemployment going from 58,900 to 60,000. West Virginia’s total unemployment decreased 5,400 from August 2011, when the number was 65,400.

Total employment saw a decline of 3,600, going from 742,100 in July of this year to 738,500 in August. It was up 5,600 from the August 2011 rate of 732,900.

WorkForce West Virginia’s latest report shows that the total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 2,300 from July to August, representing a loss of 900 jobs in the goods-producing sector and 1,400 in the service-providing sector.

Total nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 5,300 compared to August of last year, showing the loss of 4,000 jobs in the goods-producing sector and 1,300 jobs in the service-providing sector.

Jarvis said mining and logging, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality were the industries that saw the most notable declines in employment over the month. The main contributors to the decrease in employment over the year were mining and logging; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; other services; and government.

“Total nonfarm payroll employment has been at or above 760,000 only twice this year,” Jarvis said. “We should be hitting this mark more frequently within the next year.”

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate came to 7.2 percent in both July and August, showing a 0.7 percent drop from the rate of 7.9 percent in August 2011.

“Although there was a slight increase in total unemployment, this was offset by a greater increase in total employment,” he said.

WorkForce West Virginia also released Labor Market Information by West Virginia County for August 2012. A county emphasis map shows whether county unemployment rates have risen, fallen or remained the same from month to month.

Twenty-three of the counties in the state experienced a decrease in their unemployment rates from July to August of this year, while 29 counties saw growing rates. The rates did not change in Pleasants, Morgan and Upshur counties.

“We do see some county unemployment rates fall while others rise,” Jarvis said. “Many of our rural counties struggle with high unemployment, and thus it is no surprise to see some of these counties lag behind others with stronger and more varied economies.”

He said the rates for August showed a significant improvement over May, when 44 counties recording increasing rates and only six counties showing declining rates.

The counties that had unemployment rates below six percent were Pendleton, Preston, Monroe, Putnam, Monongalia and Jefferson. Clay, Webster and Boone counties were the only counties with unemployment rates greater than 11 percent.

“Little change has occurred in the Marion County numbers during 2012,” Jarvis said.

Marion County’s unemployment rate — not seasonally adjusted — was 6.3 percent in August, he said. This showed a drop from the high of 6.7 percent in February, but wasn’t as low as a few other months in 2012.

Jarvis said the county’s total nonfarm payroll employment has also remained pretty constant, staying around 22,000 throughout the year.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.