Poll paints a story of same economy, just different year

Wouldn’t you know it. It always depends on who you ask.
Ask Gov. Jim Justice or the state Chamber of Commerce if there’s a reason to cheer the state’s economy and they’ll break out the pom-poms.
But ask 501 registered state voters whether our economy is getting better, worse or is stagnant and you’ll get a vote of no confidence. That is, the vast majority cannot find any reason for enthusiasm about our economy. It’s just more of the same.
While the governor may tout three months’ worth of one indicator or another we’re watching a nearly $50 million shortfall in revenue collections grow.
The Chamber boasts of some diversification and a big bump from recent policy changes , but we’re still waiting for new ideas to move our economy forward.
Aside from north-central regions of the state and the Eastern Panhandle we’re still stuck on extraction industries and “hopes” the petrochemical industry will exploit us.
Not to mention that memorandum of understanding with China Energy is still not understood and continuing bankruptcies in the coalfields are a given.
We rarely argue any position based on polls, and are especially self conscious about polls our name is attached to. However, the results of a recent Dominion Post MetroNews West Virginia Poll are impossible to spin.
That poll of 501 registered state voters found 49% believe the economy remains the same. Another 30% said it’s getting worse, while only 21% said it’s better.
Economic forecasts also make it clear coal jobs are never going to rebound to the days of widespread black lung, barren landscapes and the tragedies we were once known for.
Some, of course, still argue that the future is not renewables, but most will agree — the future is not fossil fuels.
What aggravates our state’s economic fortunes further is our workforce is hardly positioned to adapt.
Not only are too many state workers among the least educated nationwide, but our workforce participation rate is appalling.
State programs to retrain dislocated workers have had limited success, while many participants cannot find work months later, according to state figures.
The labor force participation rate is an economic indicator where the total of employed workers plus the unemployed seeking jobs is divided by the working-age population.
The nation’s labor force participation rate in July was 63%. West Virginia’s rate was dead last at 54.8%.
We urge state leaders to focus on policies that help people gain technical skills to apply in a diversified economy.
There is no one single answer to our economy, but there is one special problem.
Our failure to diversify our economy created by a constant, undermining theme: Politics.

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