West Virginia saw another month of relatively slow job growth as the state and the nation continue to struggle with COVID-19’s economic impact.
According to Workforce WV, total nonfarm employment increased by 5,500 jobs in August, including 2,200 private sector jobs. While the economy is still adding jobs, the pace of the recovery has slowed significantly in the past two months. West Virginia has added 9,500 private sector jobs in July and August, less than a quarter of the 41,400 jobs added in May and June. As of August, West Virginia is still down 37,000 total nonfarm jobs, and 33,900 private sector jobs, compared to February.
Read Sean’s full blog post.
According to a study by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, the COVID-19 mortality rate nationwide is twice as high in prisons compared to the general population. Social distancing is difficult if not impossible in correctional facilities due to their congregate nature. This, combined with the reality that incarcerated people are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, underscores why it was crucial for corrections agencies around the country to rapidly decarcerate in order to mitigate harm done to the health and well-being of those inside (or who would have otherwise been inside if it were not for decarceration).
West Virginia responded quickly, reducing its prison population by nearly 1,000 people between March 2 and July 2. But with an ongoing pandemic and one of the country’s worst transmission rates, a looming housing crisis, high rates of food insecurity, and a dismal employment landscape, successful reentry requires that the state provide more support for its returning citizens, both during the pandemic and long after.
Read Quenton’s full blog post.
For several months, members of the Health Care for All West Virginia coalition have urged our U.S. Senators and House Representatives to prioritize a robust COVID relief package that would address the immense suffering West Virginia families, businesses, and local governments are facing. Congress has failed to come together to prioritize people and pass relief for communities since enacting the CARES Act in March, and now most of the CARES Act’s critical provisions have expired while the economic and health crisis continues.
Over the last week, reporting has suggested that the U.S. Senate, lacking consensus on another COVID relief package, would adjourn until after the election without addressing the urgent needs facing families across the country. But now that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has left a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States, Senate leadership is pledging to convene the Senate to vote on a new nominee.
“It is unacceptable that despite Senate leadership’s unwillingness to stay in Washington to work with Congressional Democrats and the White House to secure COVID relief for millions of families who are currently suffering, they do appear to be willing to stay to fill a Supreme Court vacancy,” said Jessica Ice, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
Read our full statement here.
Send a letter to Senators Manchin and Capito urging them to provide desperately needed relief here.
A new guide to climate change was released earlier this week by the West Virginia Climate Alliance. This guide was written by and for West Virginians and explores the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to the climate crisis in the context of our state.
From a Charleston Gazette-Mail piece on the guide:
“‘This guide is the beginning of a dialog with West Virginians,’ said Charleston’s Perry Bryant, a member of the Alliance. ‘Regardless of who wins the election this November, climate change legislation is likely to be considered in 2021. West Virginians need to understand the range of options for addressing climate change and how these options will affect our state and its people.’
“Strategies under consideration for mitigating the effects of climate change are covered in the guide, including carbon fees and taxes, cap-and-trade pricing for carbon, fuel economy standards and tax incentives for low-carbon technologies. Key components of the Green New Deal are also discussed.”
Find the full guide here.
Did you know that millions of eligible people could miss out on their Economic Impact Payments (EIP) – commonly called “stimulus checks” – because they have to file an online form with the IRS to get it? While most people get their payments automatically after filing a tax return (or based on participation in certain federally administered programs), this group of “non-filers” must take additional action to get their money (worth $1,200 for adults and $500 for qualifying children).
An estimated 115,000 West Virginia residents did not receive their EIP automatically from the IRS, translating to $112 million in lost potential payments. Don’t leave money sitting on the table — if you are eligible, file for your EIP before the Oct. 15 deadline.
Learn more about eligibility and file for your EIP here.
This summit seeks to “discuss race in a comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate manner designed to build the Beloved Community in West Virginia.” It kicked off to an incredible start in August, and we encourage you to keep engaging in this conversation and join us for the next session, which focuses on health and features Dr. Camara Jones as keynote speaker. Jones is a physician, epidemiologist, educator, and public health leader respected for her efforts focusing on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation.
This free event will take place on October 1 at 4pm ET. Register here.
Please join us for a three-part (Oct. 7, 14, and 21) online series screening the film Healing Justice, as well as a discussion moderated by Reverend Ron English around the key issues and concepts of this powerful documentary.
Healing Justice “addresses the school to prison pipeline, the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform, and the importance of healing and restorative practices.” The film is divided into three sections:
– The Impact of Trauma (Wed., October 7, 12-1pm) with panelists Ron Wilkerson, Rachel Dash, and Rebecca Fussell
– Redefining Justice (Wed., October 14, 12-1pm) with panelists Rico Moore, Shatarra Stroman, and Jacob Green
– The Power of Healing (Wed., October 21, 12-1pm) with panelists Errol Randle and Pastor Lloyd Hill
In addition to screening and discussing the film, we will make sure there is time to also explore the opportunities for restorative justice practices and programs in West Virginia.
By registering you will receive a Zoom link prior to the first screening on October 7. We strongly encourage you to participate in all three sessions!
Watch the trailer below.
As a result of the Trump administration’s decision to cut the collection of 2020 census data short, the self-response deadline to complete the census in West Virginia is now September 30.
From reduced FMAP and CRF funding to lost congressional seats and business opportunities, an incomplete and inaccurate census will have a harmful impact on our state.
A recent article dove into just how damaging this impact will be:
“…unless the deadline for the census is extended, West Virginia stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding every year until the 2030 census is complete.”
As of August 4, the national census response rate was 62.9% and the response rate in West Virginia was only 54.6%.
If you have not done so already, please make sure that you and those in your household are included. Each person accounted for means more funding for much-needed public services!
You can complete the census online here.
West Virginia’s coal-impacted communities have been heavily burdened with economic, environmental, and public health problems as a result of the mining industry. The RECLAIM Act would release $1.6 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund to jumpstart the reclamation of mine land abandoned before 1976. In West Virginia, the RECLAIM Act would make available approximately $200 million over five years to support reclamation projects that would work to clean up our communities.
Urge your senators to pass the RECLAIM Act here.