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Economist says Beckley economic recovery slow

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The state’s economy is in recovery from the Great Recession that began in 2008, but the improvements are coming at a slower rate than other post-recession recoveries, and the Beckley area in particular has some factors working against a more rapid economic rehabilitation.

One factor is Raleigh County’s pairing with Fayette County, which is included in the Beckley Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Fayette County, with only about a quarter of the population of Raleigh, has driven down the overall numbers with both population loss and job losses, as well as having lower personal income growth.

That news and more like it was delivered by John Deskins, director of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research on Thursday at the first-ever Beckley Economic Outlook Conference. Deskins said the news for the region is not all bad, but job losses in mining have kept the area’s unemployment rate on the rise instead of following the national trend of a decline, thus affecting local consumer confidence and per capita income numbers.

Deskins said the area gained 4,000 jobs between 2010 and 2012, only to lose more than 2,400 in the past two years. Most of those lost jobs were in Fayette County, he said. He said area job losses would eventually subside and begin to grow again at a rate of 0.9 percent annually.

“In Beckley, expect continued losses over the short run, but overall, over the entire forecast window (five years), expect Beckley to add jobs…

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