Helping Wetzel, Monroe Counties
Fifteen West Virginia counties are categorized by the Appalachian Regional Commission as “economically distressed.” While most of them are in the southern half of the state, a recent addition is not. It is Wetzel County.
Just across the Ohio River, Monroe County is in trouble, too. It has the highest unemployment rate in Ohio, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At one time just a few years ago, neither county would have been viewed as pit of joblessness. That was when unemployment rates throughout both states were high, however. Now, the 6.6 percent rate in Wetzel County and the 7.5 percent number in Monroe are high, compared to many others in the two states.
Much has changed about the Wetzel-Monroe economy. Ormet Aluminum is gone. Employment at chemical plants is down, as is that at coal mines.
Clearly, many residents of both counties need help. Govs. Jim Justice of West Virginia and John Kasich of Ohio should instruct economic development agencies to focus on the area. The people there want to work. Getting job-creating businesses to them should be a priority.