Blog Posts > The State of West Virginia’s Unemployed and Those Outside the Workforce
September 29, 2023

The State of West Virginia’s Unemployed and Those Outside the Workforce

Each year the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy releases its annual State of Working West Virginia report, which examines West Virginia’s economy through the lens of its workers—the people who power our state and our economy. While each year’s report has a slightly different focus, one consistent theme is the need to ask this simple question: what about the people who do the work? This year’s report is an in-depth look at one specific measure—West Virginia’s unemployment rate and those who are unemployed.

In addition to identifying those who are most likely to be impacted by unemployment, the report features a deep dive into the state’s unemployment insurance system, its benefits to workers, and the unemployment insurance trust fund. While the state’s unemployment trust fund remains at historically high levels, most unemployed workers do not receive unemployment insurance benefits.

In July 2023, there were 26,500 unemployment workers in the state, but only 6,762 workers collecting unemployment benefits. With low recipiency rates, it is clear that the unemployment insurance system has significant shortcomings. When the unemployment insurance system was designed, the typical job loser was a married male breadwinner laid off from a full-time job to which he could expect to return when business picked up. In the 21st century labor market, the program’s outdated eligibility requirements in many states exclude people such as unemployed workers looking for part-time work and those who leave work for compelling family reasons, like caring for an ill family member.

You can read Sean’s full report here.

Check Out Our 2022 Annual Report!

Founded in 2007, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is a policy research organization that is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and statewide.

The WVCBP’s research and analysis is designed to support informed public dialogue and policy in West Virginia. We work to advance public policies that increase opportunity and eliminate inequities through credible and accessible research and community-rooted advocacy. 

We are thankful to receive funding from national, regional, and state foundations, as well as labor organizations and individual donors. This month we released our 2022 annual report, featuring some of our work over the last year, a financial statement, and a list of our most recent funders.

Read our full annual report here.

A Deeper Look at West Virginia’s 2022 Poverty Data

According to the Census Bureau’s official poverty estimates, West Virginia saw its child poverty rate increase from 20.7 percent to 25.0 percent between 2021 and 2022, the only state to see an increase by the official measure (along with Puerto Rico). In 2022, West Virginia’s child poverty rate was the second highest among the 50 states, with 86,400 children living in poverty. Nationally, child poverty more than doubled when using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a metric that is considered more nuanced as it takes into consideration tax credits and housing and food assistance along with cost-of-living. While the spike in Supplemental Child Poverty can be attributed to Congress’ failure to extend pandemic-era anti-poverty programs, the increase in official child poverty means something more is amiss for West Virginia children.

Policy choices that reduce poverty — or allow poverty to surge — matter. When low-income families receive more income assistance, babies are more likely to be born at healthy birthweights, elementary school reading and math scores tend to rise, and children grow up with higher earnings and better health outcomes.

You can access Sean’s full blog post here.

You can read or listen to more child poverty insights from Sean in a recent article and TV news feature here.

Join us for a Big Tent Medicaid Meeting on October 4

oin the WVCBP and Think Kids for updates and insights around the return to pre-pandemic Medicaid policy in West Virginia. We’ll feature state and national stakeholders and focus on how these changes are affecting children in the Mountain State.

This webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 4 at noon. You can register to attend here.

Last Chance to Sponsor or Attend First-of-its-Kind Black Infant and Maternal Health Convening

In West Virginia and around the country, Black residents are disproportionately impacted by infant and maternal mortality and poorer health outcomes due to deep-seeded structural racism resulting in disparate access to resources and care.

On October 15-16, 2023, advocates and community members will come together to host a community-centered Black Infant and Maternal Health convening in Charleston, West Virginia. 

Attendees will hear from Black researchers, storytellers, health providers, state policymakers and one another about what we do—and what we don’t—know about the state’s Black infant and maternal health crisis. From there we will discuss how we can chart a path forward together to improving Black infant and maternal health through community-rooted policy change and education.

As we are centering community members for this convening, we want to ensure that cost is not a barrier to attendance. As such, we are seeking event sponsors to help cover the cost of the convening, which primarily includes travel, lodging, and meals for our attendees and presenters. As sponsors, you will receive tickets to the convening and recognition on event signage and in the event program. We hope as a sponsor, you will not only financially support this convening, but attend and commit to working with those most impacted by the Black maternal and infant crisis to find a path forward together.

If you are interested in sponsoring or attending this convening please reach out to Kelly here.

Share Your Medicaid Experience with Us!

The WVCBP’s Elevating the Medicaid Enrollment Experience (EMEE) Voices Project seeks to collect stories from West Virginians who have struggled to access Medicaid across the state. Being conducted in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, EMEE Voices will gather insight to inform which Medicaid barriers are most pertinent to West Virginians, specifically people of color.

Do you have a Medicaid experience to share? We’d appreciate your insight. Just fill out the contact form on this webpage and we’ll reach out to you soon. We look forward to learning from you!

You can watch WVCBP’s health policy analyst Rhonda Rogombé and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s Mariah Plante further break down the project and its goals in this FB Live.

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