West Virginia’s unemployment rate continues to creep higher, increasing its profile as an issue in the combative race for governor.
When adjusted for seasonal hiring trends, the unemployment rate rose from 7.5 percent to 7.6 percent in September. That’s the fifth monthly increase since April.
Republican Bill Maloney has seized on last month’s uptick as further evidence that voters should replace Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in November.
Tomblin argues that West Virginia’s business climate is steadily improving and headed toward long-term gains. The incumbent Democrat cites ongoing business tax cuts and an estimated $6 billion worth of investments by employers over the past two years.
Economists say West Virginia’s job picture was improving when slowing coal production helped lead to the recent losses. But they’re also forecasting future job gains.