The jobless rate has been a way for accurately measuring the strength and overall health of the economy for over 35 years. Also nicknamed the unemployment rate, this number is tabulated every month on a state level and for the national as a whole. The unemployment rate calculates the number of individuals within the work force who are unemployed. In order to be considered unemployed in this percentage, one must be at least 16 years of age, able to work and actively seeking employment. Those who are retired, choosing secondary education or staying at home with family members are not considered unemployed. Some economists criticize the jobless rate, claiming that it is not entirely accurate in representing the economy properly. For example, if a large amount of individuals exit the labor force for other reasons beyond finding employment—retiring or even abandoning their search— this will actually contribute to an overall decrease in the unemployment rate. Despite the criticism, the jobless rate still is widely used to analyze and determine economic trends as well as consider extensions to the state unemployment insurance program.
What is the unemployment rate in West Virginia and what does it say about the state’s economy? The unemployment rate in West Virginia was 4.5 percent as of May 2017. This jobless rate comes close to the national average of 4.3 percent. For those expressing concern, the unemployment rate in West Virginia is actually much stronger in 2017 versus this time last year, which came in at around 6 percent. There are also over 35,000 fewer unemployed workers in West Virginia versus the post-recession numbers in 2010.
Despite the fact that West Virginia has seen major improvements within their labor force, there are still quite a few people who are without work, yet continuously seeking. For those finding difficulty, unemployment benefits may be an option. West Virginia offers unemployment insurance benefits to those who qualify with the state-provided requirements. These benefits come in the form of temporary wage assistance to supplement a portion of income for individual in between employment.