While government statistics paint a rosy picture of low unemployment, researchers say West Virginia leads the nation in the percentage of working-age men who don't have a job.|
According to 2004 Census data, one in four men in WV between the ages of 30 and 54 said they did not have a job.
That's twice the national average.
Researchers also said there are fewer job opportunities in rural states like WV, and most of those are low-end service jobs, paying slightly above minimum wage.
WVs unemployment rate is about five percent, in some rural counties it is less.
Researchers say these men don't show up in unemployment statistics because they have been without a job for too long to receive any kind of benefits.
In WV, the statistics are skewed simply because there are not jobs to be unemployed from.
The state has lost its chemical and steel jobs, tens of thousands of mining jobs because of mechanization, with tens of thousands of low-paying production jobs having been shifted to foreign counties.
West Virginia also has the highest percentage of working-age residents receiving Social Security disability benefits, about seven-point-six percent. Two-thirds of the beneficiaries are men.