The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 8, 2014

Baby steps in right direction taken toward full economic recovery

It could be that things are looking up as far as employment goes, not just in West Virginia but in the nation as a whole.

For the first time since 1999, eight years prior to the recession’s start, American employers added more than 200,000 jobs a month for four straight months. In fact, last month’s gain of 217,000 jobs across the nation was far more significant that just another statistic. It represented the recovery of all the 9 million jobs lost during the Great Recession.

In our opinion, that’s the best bit of news we’ve heard when it comes to unemployment and the economy since 2007. Jobs are at pre-recession levels, and we believe that there’s only one way to go — up.

American consumers are feeling a lot more confident, and it’s showing in their spending habits and investments. People are buying cars again at rates we haven’t seen in some time, and manufacturing plants are expanding and increasing production to meet the demands of the market.

The unemployment rate is at 6.3 percent, a dramatic reduction of the 10 percent peak in 2009. In West Virginia, the unemployment rate is still below the national rate at 6 percent. The state has maintained a rate below the national average since 2007.

That’s all great news.

But there are some areas where improvement is certainly needed. For instance, Marion County’s 9.6 percent unemployment rate as of April, the most recent informational available, is a relative dark spot in North Central West Virginia, where surrounding counties like Monongalia and Harrison enjoy rates like 3.8 and 4.9 percent, respectively.

Nationally, though we’ve made up for all of the jobs lost to the recession, economists point out that 7 million more jobs are needed to make up for those that reached employment age during the recovery time period.

There’s also a lag in the percentage of people in the workforce, which continues to be at a 35-year low. And on top of that, increases in wages have only been about 2 percent annually, which doesn’t match the historic 3.5 percent growth we enjoyed for so many years before the economy sunk.

And of those employed, there are millions who work part time and want or need to work full time.

So it’s a mixed report. But we have taken a step forward without taking two steps back. We should celebrate that.

While the recession seemingly started overnight, we all knew that it would take years to recover from it.

And this latest data should demonstrate that while we may be taking baby steps toward full economic recovery and growth, at least those steps are being taken and the chart lines are moving in the right direction.

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Opinion
  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

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