Earlier this week Workforce West Virginia revealed that our state’s unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) for April was down slightly, from 9.5 percent to 9.2 percent, with about 72,000 “unemployed” workers. However, these figures do not reveal the number of workers who’ve dropped out of the labor force either because they’ve can’t find work, have gone back to school, or have left the state. These workers are no longer counted in the labor force because they are not actively seeking employment.
So, is West Virginia’s unemployment rate really 9.2% or, does this latest figure underestimate the true number of people who would take a job, if one were available?
Since the recession started in December 2007, West Virginia’s labor force has shrunk 3.8 percent from peak to trough, a loss of 30,791 workers. If we included the 31,000 workers who have dropped out of the state’s labor force, the unemployment rate would increase from 9.2% to 13%, representing a total of 103,300 jobless workers in West Virginia. This figure is probably a lot closer to the “real” jobless rate in West Virginia.
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