Blog Posts > West Virginia’s Unequal Economic Recovery
October 2, 2020

West Virginia’s Unequal Economic Recovery

West Virginia has recovered roughly two-thirds of the 93,900 jobs it lost in March and April as the economy was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As previous posts have shown, most of those gains occurred in May and June, with job growth slowing significantly in July and August.

But as the jobs recovery as a whole has slowed down, for some workers it hasn’t occurred at all. Jobs for West Virginia’s highest wage earners have fully returned, but only half of the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $27,000 per year.

The pandemic’s accompanying recession hit low wage workers – as well as women, young, and Black workers – the hardest, and now our recovery is widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

Read Sean’s full blog post

New U.S. House Relief Proposal Well Designed, Urgently Needed

Earlier this week the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a statement from Robert Greenstein, president, on the new COVID-19 relief package from House Speaker Pelosi:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s release of a revised package to address the virus and economic slump is an important and hopeful step. While the new package scales back the House-passed Heroes bill from $3.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion, it does so in sound ways, and the resulting package is both well designed and urgently needed. We hope this leads the White House and GOP congressional leaders to reciprocate now by moving much closer to what the revised Heroes measure contains.

While about one-third smaller in cost than the earlier Heroes legislation, the new package contains the same core elements, which together form a strong response to the crisis: food, housing, and income assistance to tens of millions of struggling households, including improvements in jobless benefits; state and local fiscal relief to avert budget cuts that would exacerbate hardship and further weaken the economy; and a strong public health response. While either the funding level or the duration of some measures has been scaled back, the revised package would actually be stronger and more effective than the prior Heroes package in the months ahead in two important areas: unemployment insurance policies and child care funding.

If policymakers can’t agree on a package with these core elements, the coming months will be much more difficult for many individuals and families across the country, for numerous small businesses, and for the economy as a whole.

Read the full statement

Rick Wilson: What Would Happen if the ACA is Overturned?

WVCBP board member Rick Wilson had this important opinion editorial in the WV Gazette Mail this week.

It’s too soon to say, but the people who want to overturn the Affordable Care Act, a group that includes West Virginia’s attorney general, are closer than before to getting what they want, even in the midst of a pandemic that has already killed over 200,000 Americans.

But what would it mean for ordinary Americans if the ACA haters get what they want? The answer is pretty grim, if you do the math.

One feature of the ACA is protection of people with preexisting conditions in qualifying for health insurance. According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 133 million Americans, over half of the non-elderly adult population, have some such condition.

Given the frailties of the human body, it has been argued that “life is a preexisting condition,” or at least one waiting to happen. This was especially true for women before the ACA passed, for reasons of medical costs associated with pregnancy, breast cancer and conditions unique to them. The National Women’s Law Center said that before the ACA “just being a woman could be considered a preexisting condition.”

Read Rick’s full piece here.

Read about Medicaid’s importance for West Virginia’s essential and front-line workers during the pandemic.

You May Still be Eligible to File for Your Stimulus Payment

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

What We’re Reading

This week the Economic Policy Institute released a new report called “Preempting Progress”, highlighting how state interference in local policymaking prevents people of color, women, and low-income workers from making ends meet in the South.

Compelled by state and federal inaction, local governments throughout the country are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time-from public health and safety, to climate change, to protecting workers’ rights and promoting broad-based economic security. And now, local governments in many states are leading the fight for stronger public health protections against COVID-19-through mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and paid leave provisions, among other actions.

However, in every state in the South, conservative state lawmakers have long used preemption- state laws that block, override, or limit local ordinances- to stifle local government action, often under pressure from corporate interests and right-wing groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (Cornejo, Chen, and Patel 2018). 

Through preemption, state lawmakers have obstructed local communities, often majority Black and Brown communities, from responding to the expressed needs and values of their residents through policies strengthening workers’ rights. Even in the context of COVID-19, state governors have taken action to preempt local measures, like masking orders, that would do more to keep vulnerable people safe.

Read the full report.

Healing Justice Film Series

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!


Petition to Tell Senators to Support the Revitalization of Coalfield Communities through the RECLAIM Act

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.

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