WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING - WV Economy Hits Bottom, Unemployment Numbers Best Ever

(11/07/2007)

By Bob Weaver

While you were sleeping, the West Virginia economy sunk to the bottom of the pit while the state boasts the best unemployment numbers ever.

The status of West Virginia's workers has long been reflected in a single statistic issued now by Workforce WV - the unemployment number.

The same statistic, by its issuance, reflects the status of the economy.

The Hur Herald has long made light of the statistic, a darling methodology of politicians.

Workforce WV just reported that unemployment in the Mountain State has reached an all-time low, the implication that all is well.

Calhoun has also reached a glowing all-time low, indicting a healthy economy, not.

Simply put, there are few jobs for workers to find, or you could say there are no jobs from which to be unemployed.

The statistic is driven by workers who have gone off the unemployment roster.

Edward Peeks, the former business editor of the Charleston Gazette, recalled this week the old saying "Figures don't lie, but liars figure."

Peeks says the unemployed are really not acknowledged in the monthly statistic.

"Beyond that, there is the question about the quality and pay of jobs during record unemployment...mostly jobs in the service industry," he said.

While proudly announcing West Virginia has only 4% unemployment, the state remains at the bottom in almost every financial analysis related to income.

While West Virginia manufacturers have joined the globalized market seeking super-cheap labor and few if any benefits. What's left is little opportunity.

Peeks says the low wages will come back to haunt manufacturers, because there is an increasing glut of low wage earners who make up most of America's consumers.

"It suggests...the gap is ever widening between the rich and the poor," Peeks wrote. He believes sooner and later, those low wages will hurt both.


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