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Age, disability rates leading to low work force participation in W.Va.


West Virginia historically has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the nation according to statistics from WorkForce West Virginia, but the director of research for the organization told lawmakers it may be more than an older population contributing to that number.

Director Jeff Green defined workforce participation as the percentage of the population over the age of 16 actively seeking employment or already employed.

Green told the Legislative Oversight Committee on Workforce Investment and Economic Development he expects the trend of low participation rates to continue not just in the state, but across the nation as more baby boomers retire.

But he said aside from the high percentage of baby boomers and retired people already living in West Virginia, the rate of those receiving disability is one of the highest in the nation at 16.8 percent, second only to Puerto Rico.

Of those receiving disability, Green says about 24 percent do hold a job, but that number is half of the nation’s highest average. North Dakota holds that distinction with more than 48 percent of disability recipients working.

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