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Diversify Workforce In the Mountain State

Some of those who have read the news about unemployment rates dropping and business booming — even right here in West Virginia — might be forgiven for wondering when the rebound will reach them. According to the numbers, our state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 5.9 percent in March. That is the lowest rate since before the pandemic was in full swing.

WorkForce West Virginia says the number of unemployed West Virginians fell by 2,400 in March to 47,300. In fact, some industries are reporting a difficult time finding workers. Restaurants and other hospitality businesses, for example, are reporting plenty of spots to fill.

But there are still more than 47,000 who would like to work, but cannot do so in their chosen field. Amid the good news in the March report was also a note that there were declines of 1,300 jobs in government, and 500 in “other services.”

What does that mean for those who, after a year of pandemic employment levels, are just now losing their jobs? And will the tens of thousands of jobs that disappeared over the past year or so ever return?

Reports such as this one underscore the need to develop programs to educate and train those who are willing to work, but need a different skill set to fill the diversified jobs West Virginia must begin to develop. Work in West Virginia will not look next year like it did in 2019. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it will require an honest attitude adjustment and a determination to do what we always do here in West Virginia: Whatever it may be, get the job done.

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