The Job Market Continues to Decline in West Virginia

Updated on September 15, 2016

West Virginia is on the cusp of what many say will be a second great depression. Still reeling from the historical flood that affected 80% of the state. West Virginia is losing large employers left and right. In a state that is already considered poverty stricken the loss of so many employment opportunities is devastating.

With the green movement closing so many mines that have helped to feed and house families for generation after generation West Virginia is already struggling. Many seeking out of state employment and leaving their homes in pursuit of financial stability.

Though many media outlets are reporting the unemployment rate is down. They fail to factor in those that have exhausted all their unemployment benefits, and yet still remain unemployed.

Acquiring a skilled labor position takes experience despite the growing opportunities. So many people are unemployed and lacking the experience for the employment opportunities that are available.
Acquiring a skilled labor position takes experience despite the growing opportunities. So many people are unemployed and lacking the experience for the employment opportunities that are available.

Company Shut Downs and Job Loss

West Virginia has been a host to some shady shut downs recently. At midnight on September 6th Dominion gas locked out more than 900 employees. Including 400 employees in West Virginia. While the lockout has now officially come to an end, they are still in negotiations.

ITT Technical Institute closed its doors without warning in early September as well. Leaving students and employees alike in the dark about the closure. An issue that not only West Virginians will be facing, but faculty and staff alike will be impacted nationwide. As the institute will be shutting down all their locations across the nation. Students can only transfer their credits to another institution if the courses are 70 percent aligned. No doubt leaving many students at a loss. With the thought that all their work and dedication has been for nothing.

In July Mustang Survival announced that it will be ceasing production at it location in Spencer, West Virginia. One of the top 3 largest employers for the area. The company is responsible for the designing and manufacturing of aerospace and marine safety and survival equipment. They will relocate their production and manufacturing center to Jacksonville, Florida. Causing the loss of 70+ jobs to a very rural community with limited employment opportunities.

Clendenin, West Virginia has lost many businesses to the unimaginable historic flooding that took place back in June. In turn many lost employment opportunities. Those businesses employed many people from the local community and outlying areas. Very few businesses seem to be rebuilding, and who can blame them after such devastating events.

Elkview, West Virginia was hit hard by the flooding as well. An entire shopping plaza remains inaccessible due to a bridge wash out. This plaza provided much needed employments to 100's of people. With places like Kmart, Kroger, McDonalds, a Steakhouse, and many other business left with no choice to wait it out and hope a bride is eventually built. Many have been able to offer employees a transfer. Though the additional travel to other locations has proved to much of a financial drain for some employees.

In the wake of President Obama's war on coal causing so many mining operations to shut down. West Virginia was already suffering employment loss for the 1,000's of miners who have lost their jobs. Coupled with the devastating loss of employment all over the state as a direct result of flooding, there is an immediate need for infrastructure and job creation in West Virginia.

Finding employment should not be as difficult as demolishing a brick building. Yet many West Virginians feel as if finding employment is harder than demo work.
Finding employment should not be as difficult as demolishing a brick building. Yet many West Virginians feel as if finding employment is harder than demo work.

West Virginia's Job Market

Even before my fiance' lost his job, I was always on the lookout for better employment opportunities. I personally have 15 years of retail management experience. The one thing I find with the job market in West Virginia is that experience seems to count for nothing these days. Employment opportunities that once only required 1-2 years experience, now require a bachelor's degree or above as a requirement. Not everyone pursues a degree, many start a career early on in life and stick with it and then life throws a curveball, and leaves them looking for employment again. If experience counts for nothing in today's job market, I can't help but wonder where people will go who have worked with the same company for 10 or 20 years and never obtained a degree.

In my experience a degree does not always make someone more qualified than another person with hands on experience and a proven track record of success. There are jobs in West Virginia, many minimum wage jobs. Though I recently sent out a borage of resumes and applications for posted availabilities, as a test and never a call back. Despite all the classified ads for posted jobs, after calling and inquiring the response is the same. 'We are always accepting applications'.

So many people are out of work right now in West Virginia that the employment opportunities are filling up faster than they can take down the 'help wanted' sign. With preference going to WorkForce West Virginia participants, that leaves many others still looking for employment. West Virginia will reimburse up to $10,000 to companies who hire eligible participants from the program. So hiring a participant of the program is much more glamorous than hiring someone who is not.

Even getting the job in West Virginia is not always what you will hope for. The largest employer in Roane county, WV is Walmart. While they do employ a large percentage of people. They also hand out 18 hour work schedules. So while Walmart raised their hiring wage to $10 an hour. It was nothing more than a publicity stunt, and they still remain the corporate welfare king. As exciting as finding employment can be, the depressing nature of being handed an 18 hour schedule, broke up into 4 hour shifts is all to common here in West Virginia.

I can't help but wonder why so many companies have job openings listed, yet calling the same ones proves they have no openings. Seems odd to me that so many companies would be posting ads for positions that are not actually available.

Some of the jobs that are available are more than a 200 mile drive. No doubt not something someone who has found themselves out of work can even consider putting in for. How would they afford travel expenses? Let alone considering moving to that area. If you have suffered a job loss, you know that finding the funds to move is beyond difficult.

I can't help but wonder if West Virginia will face moving forward if the economic decline continues. Will we face a depression? Or continue to face a drastic drop in population as people continue to leave the state to find employment opportunities.

Will the job market in West Virginia continue to decline?

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


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    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      3 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Ken Burgess well said! I could not agree with you more. There was an old quote (forgive me I forget the author) that says 'It is impossible for honest politicians to become rich'. I think there is absolutely and undeniably a lot of truth in that statement. I often wonder why Potus and other members of our government need to draw such a large salary in the first place. Let alone the other dealings that we 'common folk' know nothing about.

      Thank you so much for stopping by with such a well written comment!

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 

      3 years ago from Florida

      It is discouraging... Washington elites are totally out of touch with 'common' Americans, or worse, they are totally corrupt and don't care.

      The stories about wantonly bringing in hundreds of thousands of Syrian Immigrants, and the thousands of Americans losing their jobs to H1-B visa immigrants, and the thousands of jobs leaving to foreign lands because of TPP...

      Obama's Clean Air Act and Clean Power Plan which cripples our ability to produce cheap power here but does nothing to stop China or India or anyone else, it just makes it harder for America to compete, and for Americans to find jobs.

      Our current politicians are not looking out for America's best interests, nor our future, nor our ability to provide for our families... the need for a complete overhaul in Washington has never been greater.


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