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W.Va. job market improves to 2009 levels

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia's labor market clawed back to levels not seen in four years in January, according to the latest data from Workforce West Virginia.

More state residents found jobs while the increase in the size of the state's labor market held the unemployment rate flat during the month. 

The number of employed state residents increased by about 1,200 to 749,400 in January while the number unemployed rose 100 to 60,300 during the month.

The overall size of the state's labor force grew by 1,400 during the month, to 809,700. That helped hold the unemployment rate flat for the month at 7.4 percent, in line with December's number.

December's unemployment rate was initially reported at 7.5 percent, but that figure was revised downward one-tenth of a percent as more data became available over the past month. 

While the increases in employment and the labor market were modest, those figures did get back to levels not seen since the spring of 2009.

The number of employed West Virginians is now at its highest level since April 2009. Meanwhile, the size of the state's labor force -- which includes both working West Virginians and unemployed residents actively looking for work -- is now at levels not seen since July 2009.

The state's goods-producing sector saw job gains in January.

The mining and logging sector reported a gain of 1,100 jobs while construction jobs increased by 400. However, both sectors are down from one year ago, with mining and logging posting a loss of 1,500 jobs since January 2012. Construction is down by 300 for the same period.

The state's manufacturing sector saw no change in jobs during January.

The service sector lost about 600 jobs during the month, due mostly to a 1,500 drop in state government jobs. That was offset by gains in the leisure, hospitality and financial activities sectors.

Also on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond released its latest snapshot of the West Virginia economy.

"According to the latest data, the West Virginia economy improved slightly in recent months, with a modest rise in employment and some improvement in housing markets," the bank said in its analysis.

The report said West Virginians' personal income dropped 0.2 percent in the third quarter last year but was still up 1.6 compared to the third quarter of 2011.

State home values appreciated 0.8 percent in December and were up 5.8 percent compared to December 2011.

The state's overall home ownership rate was 75.8 percent in 2012, 10.4 percentage points ahead of the national rate of 65.4 percent.

West Virginia currently ranks first in the nation for home ownership, according to the Richmond Fed.

Mortgage delinquencies and non-business bankruptcies also declined during 2012, and state building permits more than doubled between January 2012 and 2013.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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