Economy

James and Deb Fallows

Deborah and James Fallows wrote a book called "Our Towns A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America". The husband and wife duo bought a small low-altitude plane and spent just over four years traveling 100,000 miles throughout small towns across America. 


Automation For The People? Ohio Valley At High Risk For Job Losses

Mar 14, 2019
Amazon employs 2,500 people at its Jeffersonville, IN, facility.
J. Tyler Franklin / Ohio Valley ReSource

Amazon employee Andre Woodson made his way among yellow bins traveling through a vast warehouse filled with boxes and envelopes to be packed, sorted and shipped. In Amazon-speak, this is a “fulfillment center.”

“Our Jeffersonville, Indiana, fulfillment center is about 1.2 million square feet, which is equivalent to about 28 football fields,” Woodson explained.

Wetzel County 4-H and FFA Ham Bacon and Egg Sale
Corey Knollinger / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across the state, high schools offer career and technical education to give students a leg up in their fields before graduating. These programs can include skilled trades like welding, shop classes, or even meat processing.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Ohio Valley has seen its share of workplace disruption with job losses in manufacturing and energy sectors. But a recent report warns that thousands of the region’s service, transportation, office and warehouse jobs could also be at risk. This time the threat is a coming wave of automation. The Ohio Valley ReSource's Becca Schimmel explores what automation could mean and how the region might adapt.

Adobe Stock

Facebook says it’s going to help expand broadband internet in West Virginia.

The social media company announced a plan Monday, March 4, to build a high-capacity fiber optic cable network in the state that internet providers will then be able to access.

A bill that would revive film production tax credits in West Virginia has passed the House of Delegates.

Last year Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation ending the state's program after an audit showed the $5 million in annual credits produced little economic benefit.

Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

In the mid-1980s, West Virginia joined other states in a heated bidding for a Saturn vehicle assembly plant. Saturn was considered a brand-saver for the struggling General Motors, and many states viewed the Saturn plant as salvation for their own economies, bringing the promise of generations of well-paying middle-class jobs.

Pixabay

Vivian Livingood is the mayor of Gilbert, a southern West Virginia  town of under 500 people that has struggled for years without reliable internet. Livingood said that hampers Gilbert’s tourism, businesses and schools.

“We get kicked off the internet here every two minutes, and that’s if we can afford the internet,” Livingood said. “And it’s just pitiful service. It’s not fast.”

The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH

On the night of July 24, 1916, a natural gas explosion near Cleveland trapped workers in a waterworks tunnel beneath Lake Erie. Rescuers sent in to recover the trapped men were themselves felled by “noxious fumes.”

The Cleveland authorities knew just who to call: Garrett Morgan, an inventor who had recently given a demonstration of his breathing contraption.

Morgan arrived at the scene still wearing his pajamas. With his strange breathing device strapped to his face, Morgan, along with his brother and another brave volunteer, descended into the muddy disaster site.

New ARC Grants Combine Economic Recovery and Addiction Recovery

Feb 27, 2019
Rebecca Kiger / Ohio Valley ReSource

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced Thursday another $22.8 million in funding to 33 projects aimed at revitalizing economies in places affected by the decline in the coal industry.

Goods stored at God’s Pantry’s warehouse in Lexington. which serves 50 counties from central to eastern Kentucky.
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

A bill to allow drug felons to receive food stamps has passed the West Virginia Senate.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. The House of Delegates has already passed the bill but now must concur on a Senate amendment that would exclude felons whose crimes involved death or injury.

Hemp’s Heyday: It’s Finally Legal. Now, Can Ohio Valley Farmers Cash In?

Feb 11, 2019
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, store owner Doug Flight tries to position himself in front of a camera crew.

His experience with growing and selling hemp spans years. But memorizing lines for what he says could be the first hemp TV commercial in the state is another issue.

“I know, I grow,” Flight says to the camera. “Is that it?” Flight asked.

“It’s ‘I know because I grow,’” someone with the camera crew said back.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hemp growers in the region hope a recent change in federal law means they can finally profit from a plant that had been in legal limbo.

The latest Farm Bill legalized hemp, which can be used for products ranging from clothing to soap and herbal remedies. Now it’s up to states to decide how to handle hemp. But as the Ohio Valley ReSource's Liam Niemeyer reports, not all states in the region are ready to cash in on the hemp heyday.

It's never been harder to hire long-haul truck drivers, even though companies are making the job more lucrative, less aggravating and more inclusive.

The driver shortage stretches back a quarter century, and lately a run-up in freight demand, staggeringly high turnover rates and waves of baby boomer retirements are compounding the problem.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

While a three-week reprieve to the 35-day government shutdown is easing some of the pain, the month-long spat between President Trump and Democrats in Congress threatened the livelihoods of people receiving government assistance all over the country. Local economies are still feeling the ripple effects, and many fear the new negotiations could lead to another damaging impasse. 

Shelley Moore Capito Mostly Right about Recent GDP Growth, Unemployment

Feb 5, 2019
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., checks out the stage before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016.
Carolyn Kaster / AP file photo

In a recent op-ed, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wrote that the economic environment in West Virginia -- and the United States as a whole -- is the healthiest it’s been in years.

In the op-ed, published Jan. 3 in the Daily Mail WV, Capito wrote that "the American economy had quite a year. In fact, our economy is growing at its fastest pace in nearly four years. Unemployment is at an all-time low."

Has Unemployment Not Fallen under Gov. Jim Justice?

Feb 5, 2019
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Unemployment has fallen across the country in recent years. But the West Virginia Democratic Party said in a recent tweet that it hasn’t fallen on Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s watch.

In a Jan. 9 tweet, the state party wrote, "FACT: Unemployment rate has not decreased since @WVGovernor took office. #wvpol #WVSOTS19"

Smoke billows from the Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Co. plant Jan. 31, 2019, in Wheeling, W.Va..
Chuck Kleine / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A West Virginia factory that makes frozen treats has been evacuated after a fire broke out.

News outlets report no one was injured in the fire Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Co. plant in Wheeling.

Food Aid A Concern As Government Shutdown Affects SNAP Payments

Jan 24, 2019
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

The partial shutdown of the federal government is affecting families depending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program program, or SNAP. Benefits for February have come early as a temporary fix to avoid anticipated disruptions should the shutdown drag into another month.

But the leader of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Kentucky, said the threat of hunger remains. 

John Deskins, Director of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, joins host Suzanne Higgins for a discussion on the state’s economy, areas of growth, labor force participation, and the employment growth forecast in West Virginia. We also have stories from reporters Randy Yohe and Danite Belay.

Courtesy White House Video

As President Donald Trump addressed farmers at a national conference Monday Ohio Valley agriculture leaders said they are standing by his effort to renegotiate trade deals. But some leaders cautioned that costly tariffs on farm products need to end soon.

President Trump doubled down on his fight for better trade deals during his speech to American Farm Bureau Federation members at their convention in New Orleans.

Fact-check: Did West Virginia Rank 50th in Household Income in 2017?

Jan 2, 2019
David Goldman / AP Photo

In a Nov. 8 op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Mike Romano, a Democratic West Virginia state senator, said West Virginia’s median household income was nearly $17,000 below the national average.

“In 2017, West Virginia’s $43,469 median household income was $16,867 below the national average, ranking 50th, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” Romano wrote.

U.S. Coal Consumption Drops To Lowest Level Since 1979

Dec 4, 2018
Superintendent Jackie Ratliff, a coal miner, holds coal running through a processing plant in Welch, W.Va.
AP file photo

Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, a federal report said Tuesday, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration’s pledges to revive the U.S. coal industry.

Is Food the Key to This Small Pennsylvania Town’s Economic Revival?

Nov 28, 2018
David Smith / 100 Days in Appalachia

Lincoln Avenue slices Bellevue down its belly, the only break in the borough’s neat rows of Queen Annes, Colonial Revivals and Craftsmans.

The town climbs a hillside along the Ohio River, just six miles north of Pittsburgh. During a 90-year stretch, beginning with the streetcar boom of the 1890s and ending with the decline of steel in the 1980s, the avenue offered residents every shop and service they could ever need in a tightly packed, half-mile stretch. Markets and movie theaters. Bakeries and dress boutiques. Isaly’s and ice cream.

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Unemployment rates rose in 39 of West Virginia's 55 counties in October.

WorkForce West Virginia says unemployment rates dropped in Clay and Pendleton counties and was unchanged in 14 other counties.

Farmington No. 9: The West Virginia Disaster that Changed Coal Mining Forever

Nov 20, 2018
Jesse Wright / WVPB

In 1969, the world’s attention turned upward to the Moon, as Neil Armstrong took humankind’s first momentous step off Earth onto another world.

But that year also saw momentous federal legislation spurred by a disaster that riveted the nation’s attention downward, hundreds of feet below the Earth and the hills of West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, seven of the nation’s leading causes of death are found at higher rates here in Appalachia compared to the rest of the country. But there is some diversity in these statistics.

When researchers analyzed all 420 counties in Appalachia, they found 42 outperformed the statistical odds. A team of researchers has been studying why these communities are outliers. As Roxy Todd reports, in all of the communities that researchers studied, they found a culture of sharing and volunteering. She visited one such community in West Virginia.

How Kentucky Is Failing Its Workers

Nov 14, 2018
Michelle Hanks

While most of the Meade County public works crew finished their lunches, Pius “Gene” Hobbs was raking along the edge of the road, oblivious to the dump truck backing quickly towards him. 

Unbeknownst to the driver, Hobbs was knocked to the ground and crushed under the truck’s weight. When the truck accelerated forward, Hobbs’ coworker ran him over a second time. He was killed on impact. 

The only eyewitness to the December 2016 incident, a bystander named Greg Turner, said that he didn’t hear a backup beeper on the truck as it reversed. Maybe Hobbs hadn’t either. 

Lodge in Cacapon Resort State Park, Morgan County, W.Va., May 2008
Brian M. Powell / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Jim Justice’s office made two announcements Friday all related to infrastructure in the Eastern Panhandle.

A South Carolina town that has reinvented itself with art is seeking artists in West Virginia to participate in its annual nine-day exhibition. Event organizers toured West Virginia to spread the word about the event and also the economic effects art has had in their town.

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