With half of 2018 already in the books, now would be a good as time as any to check in on West Virginia’s economy and recent job growth. As of June 2018, West Virginia’s total nonfarm employment stood at 751,000 jobs, with an unemployment rate of 5.3%. While the state had been adding jobs recently, it is still 9,200 jobs short of where it was before the recession, meaning that after more than 10 years, the state has not fully recovered. In comparison, nationally, the country has added over 10 million jobs since the beginning of the recession, and has a current unemployment rate of 4.0%. So far West Virginia has added 2,400 jobs through 6 months in 2018, and 6,800 jobs over the past 12 months. But the rate of job growth in West Virginia has only been a fraction of the job growth experienced nationwide. West Virginia’s job growth rate in 2018 has been 0.3%, compared to 1.2% nationally, and has been 0.9% over the past 12 months, compared to 2.3% nationally. Across most sectors of the economy, West Virginia’s job recent job growth rates have been below the national average either in the past 6 months or over the past year. West Virginia’s job growth has not been felt broadly throughout the economy in 2018. Only the mining and logging, trade, transportation, and utilities, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality sectors have experienced job growth over 1% so far in 2018. West Virginia has lost jobs in the construction, manufacturing, information, financial activities, and education and health services sector. Notable is the construction sector in West Virginia, which is up 2,200 jobs over the past 12 months, but down 1,000 jobs over the past 6 months, likely reflecting the volatile nature of natural gas pipeline construction. Most of the state’s job growth has been concentrated in mining and construction, both of which have proven to be volatile sources of job growth in the past and have not led to broader, more sustainable growth.
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