Hospitals, Schools Are Top Employers

WHEELING – Just about seven years after its opening at The Highlands, Cabela’s is Ohio County’s third-largest employer, according to statistics from WorkForce West Virginia.

“We are certainly glad they are here. The lived up to the employment part of the deal,” said Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart of Cabela’s, the entity he and other county leaders initially attracted to help spur the growth of The Highlands.

The Top 10 employers for each of West Virginia’s six Northern Panhandle counties include hospitals, schools and retailers, along with a few entertainment businesses and some manufacturers.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, our economy was much more geared toward manufacturing. Now, we have much more of a focus on health care and service related businesses,” said Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce President Terry Sterling. “Our business community has faced the same economic pressures others have, but we are doing our best to adapt to the new economy.”

  • Leading the list of top employers in Ohio County is Wheeling Hospital, followed by Ohio County Schools, Cabela’s, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, WesBanco Inc. and the city of Wheeling.

Ohio County saw its unemployment rate decline from 7.7 percent in July to 7.4 percent in August, according to WorkForce West Virginia. The county is the only one in the Northern Panhandle to feature a lower percentage of people looking for work than the statewide average of 8 percent for August.

The per capita personal annual income for Ohio County is $36,869.

“We have a very solid banking system here. A lot of the places that had to deal with vast foreclosures are really hurting, but we are still hanging in there,” Sterling said.

  • Leading the way in Marshall County is the McElroy Coal Co., with Marshall County Schools, Consolidated Coal Co. and PPG Industries following. McElroy and Consolidated Coal are both subsidiaries of Consol Energy.

Marshall County’s, unemployment rate seemed to be fairly steady from July to August, remaining at 8.9 percent. The county’s per capita annual income, according to WorkForce, is $31,330.

  • Weirton Medical Center tops the list of employers in Brooke County, followed by RG Steel and Brooke County Schools. Brooke County – home to the Mountain State Carbon coke plant once owned by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and now controlled by RG Steel – saw its jobless rate decline from 10.7 percent in July to 9.5 percent in August. Per capita personal annual income for Brooke County is $30,971.
  • Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort leads the employment way in Hancock County, with ArcelorMittal Weirton, the Homer Laughlin China Co. and Hancock County Schools following. In the ArcelorMittal plant’s former life as Weirton Steel, the company was once the largest private employer in the entire Mountain State.

The county’s unemployment rate remained stable at 11.1 percent in July and August. Personal per capita income for Hancock County is $31,839.

  • Wetzel County Schools is the largest employer in that county, followed by Wal-Mart and Wetzel County Hospital. Wetzel County, the site of significant levels of natural gas drilling, had an increase in the unemployment rate from 10.9 percent in July to 12.1 percent in August. Per capita personal income for the county, according to WorkForce, is $30,659.
  • Momentive Performance tops the list of employers in Tyler County, followed by the county’s school system. Tyler County also saw its jobless number slightly increase, as the percentage jumped from 9.7 percent in July to 10.7 percent in August. Per capita income for the county is $25,471.

Though the face of the local economy continues to change, Sterling said the natural gas drilling activity continuing to increase in the area provides a “tremendous opportunity.”

“There are millions of dollars being invested here right now, and there should continue to be more,” he said. “This will be a huge economic impact for years to come.”