Pocahontas unemployment remains high despite resort opening
Marlinton, W.Va. – Unemployment decreased in West Virginia in November to 7.3 percent, but increased in Pocahontas County to 11.3 percent, the third highest unemployment rate in the state. The number of unemployed workers in Pocahontas County increased from 300 to 370, despite the pre-Thanksgiving opening of Snowshoe Mountain resort.
Counties with unemployment rates over 10 percent included Clay, Webster, Pocahontas, Grant, and Wetzel.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a draft revision to the state’s strategic workforce plan in September. The draft includes the Governor’s four goals for the West Virginia workforce for the next five years:
#1: Develop a workforce that is able to respond to changing economic conditions with nimble and effective workforce training programs.
#2: Develop a broader pool of appropriately prepared natural gas support and downstream industry workers in West Virginia to take full advantage of economic opportunities in the emerging Marcellus Shale industries.
#3: Promote technical training and education among students and job seekers to prepare West Virginia workers for a more highly technical and skilled work environment.
#4: Ensure job development and workforce readiness is a priority throughout West Virginia.
Government is the largest job provider in the state. More than one in five workers in West Virginia works for the federal, state or local government. Rounding out the top five employment industries are trade, transportation, and utilities (17.9%); educational and health services (16.3%); leisure and hospitality (9.7%) and professional and business services (8.3%).
Mining and logging makes up just 4.5 percent of the jobs in West Virginia. The Governor’s plan predicts a long-term decrease in coal mining and growth of oil and gas extraction.
The leisure and hospitality industry, so important in Pocahontas County, employs more than twice the number of West Virginians as mining and logging. However, an entire section of the Governor’s draft plan discusses oil and gas extraction, but the word tourism appears only once in the 140-page plan.
The Governor’s draft plan is posted on the Workforce West Virginia website for public comment.