Economy

Eric Douglas / WVPB

Federal, state and local representatives gathered at Yeager Airport in Charleston Thursday to break ground for the new Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School. 

Jerome Gilbert, president of Marshall University, explained that the school learned the aviation industry needed new pilots because they have a federally mandated retirement age. 

“It was after a thorough investigative and fact-finding process, Marshall committed to a flight school to produce commercial pilots with a bachelor’s degree,” Gilbert said  

USDA

Tyson Foods sought and received federal permission to increase the operating speed at poultry processing plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana even  as public health officials reported dozens of coronavirus cases among Tyson workers. Now, a union representing workers at meatpacking plants in Kentucky and southern Indiana is one of several plaintiffs suing the federal government over waivers that allowed Tyson Foods and other companies to operate faster.

Courtesy photo

Twenty businesses in West Virginia provide materials, make airplane parts or service engines and airframes for the aviation industry and the state exports more than $150 million of airplane parts every year. 

One of the bigger players is Pratt and Whitney in Bridgeport. Pratt and Whitney is a multinational corporation that manufactures jet engines for civilian and corporate jets. The West Virginia facility, though, services older engines. 

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore a couple contentious topics. We look at the impacts of Confederate monuments standing in our region, and we hear a report on Universal Basic Income and whether it could be one answer as residents in West Virginia experience unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Nearly 1 million renter households across the Ohio Valley are unable to pay rent and at risk of eviction, according to research firm Stout. That amounts to 42 percent of renter households in Kentucky, 46 percent in Ohio and 47 percent in West Virginia.

Updated at 9:32 a.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic triggered the sharpest economic contraction in modern American history, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

National Park Service

The Appalachian Regional Commission is awarding $6 million to several programs across West Virginia. This money is meant to help support small businesses that were impacted by COVID-19.

According to the SBA, more than 113,000 businesses in West Virginia are considered small businesses —  almost 99 percent of businesses within the state. 


On this West Virginia Morning, we hear an update from Gov. Jim Justice who is warning of mandating face masks in public. Also, in this show, we hear how colleges and universities in the state are reacting to financial challenges brought on by COVID-19; we hear the latest on the unprecedented numbers of unemployment claims in the region; we hear about a federal spending bill that may help improve infrastructure in coal-reliant communities, and we hear this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

On this West Virginia Morning, a group of residents in Letcher County, Kentucky confront a judge over a Facebook post in which he downplayed racism and accused protesters of heightening tensions. Also, in this show, we hear how religious leaders in West Virginia are responding to the coronavirus pandemic at their places of worship. We also visit some towns in the state to hear how the pandemic’s economic impact is affecting local tourism.

Ohio Valley Weekly Unemployment Claims Down Slightly To 82K

Jun 4, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

As the Ohio Valley continues its phased-in reopening, unemployment insurance claims are down slightly compared to the week before. The region is still reporting high levels of unemployment assistance applications.

At least 82,011 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bigstock

Here’s something that might surprise you: A new national survey shows that regardless of political affiliation, Americans are mostly in agreement over how to reopen the economy during the coronavirus pandemic  -- slowly -- and with protective measures like face masks.

Questions And Anxiety Mount Over COVID-19 Workplace Safety As More Businesses Reopen

May 31, 2020
Workers sort envelopes at the Amazon fulfillment center.
J. Tyler Franklin / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


Gail Fleck is a school cafeteria worker in the greater Cincinnati area and lives with her 90-year-old father. She loves her job because she gets to work with kids. But she is worried she won’t be able to keep her dad safe if her work exposes her to the coronavirus and she unknowingly brings it home. 

“I’m scared, I’m worried. I feel like, we’re talking about life and death here and this is my father,” she said. 

Food is ready for loading and distribution the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington, West Virginia..
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting file photo

A new federal program is buying more than $1 billion in farm products such as dairy, produce and meat unable to be sold due to the pandemic’s disruptions to the food supply and send “food boxes'' to needy families. But some anti-hunger advocates worry that parts of the Ohio Valley may be overlooked in getting this aid.

Ohio Valley Unemployment Claims Exceed 100,000

May 28, 2020
Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

As some businesses in the Ohio Valley reopen and welcome back both customers and employees the region continues reporting high levels of unemployment claims.

At least 100,863 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic..

On this West Virginia Morning, the coronavirus has put thousands of West Virginians out of work, but for many navigating the unemployment system has been challenging. We hear a conversation with WorkForce West Virginia, the agency administering unemployment benefits, on how they’re adapting in this unprecedented time. And we hear from one West Virginia teacher on how she is navigating distanced teaching.

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore how the coronavirus pandemic has created new challenges for college graduates as they enter an uncertain job market. We also hear a report from Ohio County as some organizations there have come together to find creative ways to feed students in the area.

Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky’s state budget officials told lawmakers Friday that general fund receipts may decline by $495 million next fiscal year. It’s just the latest example of the unprecedented financial hardships ahead for the Ohio Valley’s state and local governments due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 38 million Americans have applied for unemployment insurance in the past nine weeks, about 2.5 million of them in the Ohio Valley states of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

Even economists find figures like that hard to reckon with.

Aaron Payne / Ohio Valley ReSource

A new study shows the Ohio Valley has some of the nation’s highest rates of food insecurity among older adults, and anti-hunger advocates say that situation could be made worse by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.


Cattle farmers are seeing increased local demand amid the pandemic.
Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

 


Debby Dulworth has a lot of conversations with her cattle each day. She swings open a gate, driving the herd with repeated calls and the Hereford cattle, respond in kind with groans and snorts.

“They talk to me,” Dulworth said with a laugh, as the cows come bounding out into a fresh field of Kentucky fescue and buttercups. She’s been corralling them from pasture to pasture on her farm for decades near Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, nestled in a bend of the Ohio River.

New college graduates will likely have job interviews over video conferencing programs like Zoom or Skype, a trend experts say may continue even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
Adobe Stock

Unemployment across the nation is at an all-time high with millions of Americans out of work. In West Virginia, more than 160,000 residents have filed for unemployment since mid-March, according to state officials on May 14

This has many new college graduates concerned as they try to navigate a now limited job market. While there may be valuable lessons new grads can learn through the pandemic, it will also be a challenging road ahead for some. 

Another 99,000 Join Unemployed In Ohio Valley As U.S. Jobless Total Tops 38M

May 21, 2020
Courtesy Bytemarks via Creative Commons.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported close to 99,000 additional unemployment insurance claims in the last week from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, as state unemployment offices worked their way through a backlog of millions of claims filed since the coronavirus pandemic forced business closures beginning in March.

On this West Virginia Morning, we check in with the state’s nursing homes coping with the coronavirus pandemic. We also hear an update on how restaurants across the Ohio Valley are approaching reopening measures.

Ohio Valley Making Progress On Unemployment Backlog

May 14, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia are making progress on unemployment claims filed in March as states begin a phased-in reopening.

New unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

How Ohio Valley States Are Reopening Their Economies

May 8, 2020
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

This story was updated on May 11, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the Ohio Valley Region. But stay at home orders and social distancing restrictions reduced the number of cases modelers projected without them. 

Now there is pressure to ease the restrictions and open states’ economies back up as the businesses that were closed struggle to find relief and record numbers of people apply for unemployment.

Here is a brief rundown of how West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky plan to reopen businesses.

Ohio Valley Hitting Plateau Of Unemployment Claims

May 7, 2020
Courtesy Bytemarks via Creative Commons.

New unemployment insurance claims are starting to reach a plateau, but are still hitting unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

Stradwick's Fade Cave Facebook Page

Across the U.S., some states, including West Virginia, are beginning to loosen restrictions meant to reduce the spread of coronavirus, allowing for some non-essential businesses to reopen. 

On Monday, May 4, West Virginia entered the second week of Gov. Jim Justice’s six-week reopening plan, “The Comeback.” During week two, businesses with fewer than 10 employees, salons and barber shops, dog grooming services, and outdoor dining restaurants are allowed to reopen. Churches and other places of worship are allowed to conduct funerals and other services with limited gathering sizes. 


Monday marked the first day some businesses across the state could begin to reopen after weeks of being closed because of the coronavirus. But some say they don’t feel ready to open their doors. We explore the tough decisions facing the state’s small businesses.

Corey Knollinger WVPB

At the Rambling Root restaurant in Fairmont, the lights have been dimmed and chairs and tables are stacked in the corner. The bar, usually crowded with locals sipping craft beer, is empty. 

Since the state closed all nonessential business due to COVID-19, sales are down by more than 40 percent, said owner D.J. Cassell. He’s had to lay off 10 of his 12 staffers, and a few have already said they won’t be able to come back.

“It sucks, because I am doing everything I can right now to keep the lights on and the doors open here, but if I don’t get some help then —  if we close down, I don’t know if we’ll ever open back up,” he said. 

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

New unemployment insurance claims in the Ohio Valley began to taper off this week as states make their way through the backlog of applications amid business closures forced by the coronavirus pandemic. But local economies still face a staggering number of unemployed, and many of those who are out of work are still awaiting help.

About 211,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

On this West Virginia Morning, business owners share their efforts to get emergency SBA loans during this coronavirus crisis. And Gov. Jim Justice lays out his plans to begin reopening the state.

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