Pages tagged "Economic Development News"
Associated Press, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, The Republic, Wheeling Intelligencer, Gilmer Free Press, WOUB Public Media - A state economic group has calculated that 5,000 jobs have been lost in West Virginia since 2011, most of them in the state's southern coalfields. Read
The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy on Tuesday released its annual report, "The State of Working West Virginia."
The report focuses on the lingering effects of the recession and the steady erosion of coal mining jobs in southern West Virginia, among other factors. West Virginia coal production has declined by 35 percent since 1997, according to the report.
The report offers a number of policy recommendations to increase workforce participation, and take advantage of the natural gas boom in the northern part of the state.
West Virginia Public News Service - West Virginia's economy is still weak, and much of the energy-extraction growth has shifted north, according to the annual State of Working West Virginia report. Read
The southern coalfields continue to experience declining production, said Ted Boetner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, who helped write the report. Much of the growth in natural gas and expanded health-care coverage is taking place farther north in the state, he said, and isn't replacing what's being lost.
"While West Virginia's economic recovery has been assisted by strong growth in the natural gas industry and the expansion of health coverage from Medicaid," he said, "wages remain stagnant; unemployment remains elevated."
Charleston Gazette - The recent recession may have ended, but West Virginia workers aren't better off than they were before, according to the annual "State of Working West Virginia" report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. Read
The center released its 2014 report Tuesday, exploring the state's economic recovery and shifting energy market. "While the economy is recovering, and gross domestic product has grown, you don't really see a healthier economy," said Sean O'Leary, fiscal policy analyst at the center. "Our wages haven't grown along with our GDP — our productivity has gone up but our compensation hasn't."
The state's real gross domestic product grew 5.1 percent from 2012 to 2013, earning the third-highest GDP growth rate in the nation. However, in that same time period, West Virginia ranked last in job growth, losing more than 7,000 jobs.
Report Highlights Economic Recovery and Transition in the Mountain State State's Energy Economy Shifts North
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Boettner, 304-590-3454 (cell), Rick Wilson, 304-993-8950 (cell) or 304-743-9459 or Sean O'Leary, 304-720-8682
–While West Virginia's economic recovery from the Great Recession has been assisted by strong growth in the state's natural gas and oil industries and the expansion in health coverage from Medicaid, wages are stagnant, unemployment remains elevated, and the state has fewer good-paying jobs than before the recession. The state has also undergone a dramatic shift in its natural resource extraction economy, with coal mining and natural gas production and employment shifting from the southern part of the state to northern West Virginia. These are just some of the findings in the "State of Working West Virginia 2014: Economic Recovery and Transition in the Mountain State," an annual report by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the American Friends Service Committee. Read PDF of news release.
While West Virginia has largely gained back the number of jobs it lost during the recession, the state has more low-wage jobs, and fewer mid-wage and high-wage jobs now than it did before the recession. While workers are more productive, their wages have remained stagnant and have not grown along with GDP and productivity. This has contributed to income inequality, with the share of income held by the top 1% reaching historic highs.
"At first glance, it may appear that West Virginia's economy has nearly fully recovered from the recession. But there are more low-paying jobs and fewer high-paying jobs than before, and fewer West Virginians working in them. And while the state's Gross Domestic Product has grown, that growth isn't creating new jobs and higher wages like it did in the past. Instead, the recent gains of the economy were reaped by a small share of the wealthiest West Virginians, with most of the state not sharing in the prosperity," explained Sean O'Leary, Fiscal Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and one of the report's authors.
Another finding in the report is that the state is facing both an energy boom in north-central West Virginia and a coal bust in the south. Between 2008 and 2013, state coal production declined by 28 percent and almost 5,000 coal mining jobs have been lost. The leading coal-producing county is now Marshall, not Boone. Meanwhile, the north-central part of the state has seen an increase in coal and natural gas and oil jobs over the past five years.
"Instead of focusing on who and what is to blame for the decline of coal in southern West Virginia, concrete action is needed to plan a new economic future for the southern coalfields," stated Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and coauthor of the report. "While it won't be easy, there are directions we can take with proven results that will help provide a soft landing as coal begins to play a diminishing part of our state's economy."
The report provides recommendations for policymakers. For example, in order to address impacts of harmful tax cuts enacted since 2006, estimated to cost the state an estimated $425 million in fiscal year 2015, state leaders could increase the tobacco tax, one of the lowest in the nation and unchanged since 2003.
Another recommendation, which would help southern coalfield communities facing economic transition, is to update the Abandoned Mine Lands program so that miners could be put to work restoring damaged areas.
Further progress is needed to help the state's working families. Suggestions are passing legislation that allows workers to earn paid sick leave; creating a program for voluntary retirement accounts for workers not offered pensions from their employers; enacting a state earned income tax credit; and indexing the state minimum wage to the rate of inflation.
"One thing that is also clear is that legislative and policy decisions make a huge difference in the life of working people, both positively and negatively," according to Rick Wilson, Executive Director of the American Friends Service Committee and report coauthor. "For example, the decision by Governor Tomblin to expand Medicaid brought needed health care to nearly 150,000 hard-working West Virginians, most of whom previously lacked coverage. On the other hand, decisions to slash corporate taxes didn't seem to have had a huge positive impact on the economy but may have helped make higher education less affordable for working families."
Charleston Gazette - The Rockefeller Foundation, known as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, announced its plans this week to withdraw all its investments in fossil fuel companies, in an effort to improve the environment. Read
A day before Tuesday's U.N. Climate Summit began in New York City, the $860 million philanthropic group announced that it is joining the divestment movement that began three years ago at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College.
The Rockefeller Fund is part of a coalition called the Global Divest-Invest Group, which has promised to divest $50 billion of investments from fossil fuel-producing companies.
The State Journal - With declining coal markets, mine closures and efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions making daily headlines, it's no secret the once-soaring Appalachian coal industry has hit turbulence. Read
As Appalachian coal production has declined, thousands of Mountain State residents, who once made well-above-average incomes in the mines, are now left with few options for employment. The decades-long Golden Era for miners and mining counties, which have historically been relatively prosperous in otherwise tough economic times for the state and the country, might be headed toward a permanently dead end.
"There's going to be a serious transition," said Sean O'Leary, fiscal policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. He added, however, that the individual impact of the decline will vary for residents living in different parts of the state.
Washington Post - As Chico Harlan writes, the economy of the central Appalachian region has been tied to the highs and lows of the coal industry for decades. Read
Harlan's piece raises the question of whether West Virginia miners are better off moving away from the troubled local coal mining industry — and certainly some are trying. But is West Virginia's economy better off moving away from one of its most valuable natural resources? In economics, there's a fairly sizable body of research on the idea of a "resource curse" — that is, the theory that countries blessed with abundant natural resources are often cursed with higher poverty levels and lower growth. Experts disagree about the extent of the causal link between resource booms and poverty.
Washington Post - For 51 years he'd lived in the same hollow and for two decades he'd performed the same job, mining coal from the underground seams of southern West Virginia. Then, on June 30, Michael Estep was jobless. His mine shut down, and its operator said "market conditions" made coal production unviable. Read
What has come since, for Estep, stands as the new Central Appalachian economic experience: a job-hunt in a region whose sustaining industry is in an unprecedented freefall. "I don't know what to do," Estep said as unpaid bills piled up, his cable cut to black, and his wife withdrew the last $7 from a checking account they'd held for 20 years.
What's happening now in America's coal heartland is not just the typical bust. Those in the industry say it's more dire, potentially permanent, caused at once by declining reserves, a cheaper influx of competing gas and looming environmental regulations. More than 10,000 miners have lost jobs over the past two-and-a-half years in southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, and their plight illustrates how, even amid an economic recovery, certain segments of the workforce are being shut out.
The State Journal - West Virginia has come a long way since former President John F. Kennedy visited the hillsides in 1963. Read
"I would not be where I am, I would not have some of the responsibilities which I now bear, if it had not been for the people of West Virginia," Kennedy said during a rainy West Virginia Day speech June 20, 1963.
Kennedy campaigned all over the state to try to help the blight he was witness to in order to transform the state into a thriving business economy.
The business climate in the state is halfway through a 40-year plan, according to state leaders. The state has seen much success, but still has much progress to make.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting - Over the past two years, 1,800 coal miners in Boone County have been laid off from work—that's a fifth of the county's total labor force. And the crisis doesn't show any signs of slowing. At the end of July, Alpha Natural Resources announced it expects to lay off 1,100 more workers at 11 mines in southern West Virginia. The West Virginia Coal Festival, held every year at the end of June in the county seat of Madison, is a good place to gauge how the layoffs are affecting everyday life for Boone County families--not only the economy, but also the political landscape and discussions about the future. Read