From the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington:
When people talk about economically distressed areas in southern West Virginia, they usually focus on McDowell County. Nearly forgotten has been its neighbor to the north.
Wyoming County has not been hit nearly as hard as McDowell County as the coal industry has contracted and reduced employment, but the downsizing of the industry has hit that county, too. Between 1950 and 2010, the county’s population dropped nearly 37 percent. Communities have seen their merchants go out of business with no one to replace them.
The most recent estimates have the county’s unemployment rate at 7.5 percent, compared with the statewide average of 5.3 percent. People who do have jobs do OK but not great by West Virginia standards, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average wage in Wyoming County in the third quarter of 2018 was $841 per week, compared with $894 statewide.
As with McDowell County, Wyoming County’s terrain is not attractive to large manufacturing or distribution enterprises, so coal has carried the economic load for decades.
Last week’s announcement that Consol Energy will proceed with developing a new metallurgical coal mine in the Itmann area – along W.Va.10 about 11 miles east of the county seat in Pineville – gives hope that things can turn around some. …