CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that West Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.2% for September 2021; the lowest such rate recorded in all of state history.
The landmark achievement is the result of the actions taken by Gov. Justice to make West Virginia a more business-friendly state, as well as the Justice Administration’s standing behind the energy industry, the Governor's investment in revamping the state’s transportation infrastructure through his Roads to Prosperity program, additional investments in the tourism industry that are paying big dividends, sound overall management of the state’s finances, and much more.
“This is an absolutely historic accomplishment that all West Virginians should be incredibly proud of,” Gov. Justice said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had many firsts and set all kinds of economic records. But at the end of the day, reaching a new all-time low for our unemployment rate may be the most important record we've ever broken.
“When you’re talking about jobs, you’re talking about people's livelihoods,” Gov. Justice continued. “In West Virginia, we’ve pushed the right buttons and now we’ve been able to provide an opportunity for more and more people to earn a paycheck so they can care for their families.”
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The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has now decreased for 17 consecutive months.
“If you just think about where we were before the pandemic, all of our numbers were really on the move. And then, when COVID hit, it was like a cannonball to the stomach. But we didn’t fragment. We all pulled the rope together as West Virginians,” Gov. Justice said. “There were a lot of naysayers out there that would have never dreamed that, within such a short period of time, not only would we be back to the point that we were before the pandemic, but now be to the point where we’re actually getting into all-time record territory for these numbers. It’s miraculous, really.”
For the seventh straight month, West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains better than the national unemployment rate.
Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that attempts to remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal how employment and unemployment change from month to month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of unemployed state residents decreased by 2,100 in September, while total employment grew 1,200 over the month. Overall, West Virginia’s labor force participation rate has returned to its pre-pandemic level and is continuing an upward trend which began in 2017.
“No matter how you slice it, West Virginia is absolutely knocking it out of the park right now like we never have before,” Gov. Justice said. “Even a once-in-lifetime pandemic hasn’t been able to stop us. We just keep seeing more and more greatness in West Virginia.”
Under the leadership of Gov. Justice, a lifelong businessman, West Virginia is enjoying a period of economic prosperity the likes of which the state has never seen before.
Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia finished FY2021 with a $413 million surplus and has finished the first three months of FY2022 with a $142.7 million surplus.
Gov. Justice also recently announced that West Virginia ranked among the top 10 states in the entire nation for GDP growth in Q2, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“It’s taken a lot of people putting in a lot of work and making the right moves, but the incredible successes that we’ve seen in our economy and workforce, even through this terrible pandemic, might just very well be the greatest thing we’ve ever accomplished during this administration,” Gov. Justice said.
Today’s announcements are just the latest in a long list of achievements dating to the beginning of Gov. Justice’s administration.
Last week, the Governor unveiled his Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy; a plan to bring broadband availability to 200,000 more West Virginia homes and businesses. After inheriting a $500 million budget deficit, Gov. Justice has led the state to a string of consistent budget surpluses. His Roads to Prosperity project is the state’s largest-ever investment in road maintenance and improvement; after 50 years of neglecting its roads, the state has committed more than $2 billion dollars to fixing them. Teachers and state employees have received their two largest pay raises ever. The state’s Rainy Day Fund now exceeds $1 billion – another record – and its public pension funds are better-funded than they have been in decades. A multiyear decline in tourism revenue has been reversed and transformed into strong growth. The Governor has led West Virginia through a once-in-a-century pandemic, protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens, and achieving some of the best numbers and lowest fatality rates of any state in the nation. With today’s announcements, Gov. Justice’s remarkable record of accomplishment grows even stronger.