Jobless Rates Vary Across the Ohio Valley

Photos by Miranda Sebroski Monroe County has the highest unemployment rate in the Upper Ohio Valley, according to a recent federal report. Now that American Mud Works Ltd. has set up shop there, officials hope more jobs will be available.

WHEELING — Monroe County has the highest unemployment rate in the Upper Ohio Valley, and it is also No. 1 for unemployment in the state of Ohio.

Monroe County’s rate is now 7.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from it’s high of 14.4 percent in 2014 but up from its low at 7.2 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, Ohio County residents enjoy the lowest unemployment rate in the valley. Still, the West Virginia Department of Commerce said unemployment in four Northern Panhandle counties rose in July, while another county’s rate dropped and one county’s employment levels remained stable.

Counties showing increases in unemployment for the month were Wetzel, with an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent; Hancock, 6.1 percent; Marshall, 5.9 percent; and Ohio, 5.1 percent.

Tyler County’s unemployment rate last month remained unchanged, at a rate of 6.5 percent.

The only Northern Panhandle county experiencing a decrease in unemployment for July was Brooke, with a rate of 6.6 percent.

Many counties in eastern Ohio have greatly lower unemployment rates than they did eight years ago.

Jefferson County is now at its lowest unemployment rate in years at 6.6 percent. It had been 16.6 percent in 2010. Belmont County’s rates are lower, too. They are at 5.5 percent as opposed to 13.8 percent just eight years ago. For the same time frame, Guernsey County sits at 5.2 percent as opposed to 15.6 percent and Harrison County is at 5.2 percent vs. 15.1 percent.

The federal statistics include people living in places such as correctional institutions, residential nursing or mental health care facilities and those on active duty in the armed forces. The study is designed so that each person age 16 and older is counted and classified in only one group. People are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job and have actively looked for work in the prior four weeks.

More people are out of work in Ohio than just a few months ago, according to the statistics. The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in June was 259,000, up from 250,000 in May. However, 34,000 more people are working now than they were a year ago.

Bradley C. Harris, a West Virginia Department of Commerce spokesman, said, “West Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 5.4 percent in July 2018. Unemployment rates rose in 25 counties, declined in 18 counties and were unchanged in 12 counties.

“The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed 1/10th of a percentage point to 5.4 percent in July,” he said.

Monroe County officials have been hoping that residents will have more employment opportunities when a proposed ethane cracker plant in Dilles Bottom is up and running. The county also recently welcomed American Mud Works Ltd. The company is based in Texas but is servicing the oil and gas industry here with a drilling mud production plant.

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