Historic Flooding Impacts State Economy

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Each month the Mountain State Business Index is issued to gauge the state’s economic performance. According to the index, West Virginia could be on its way out of a recession.

“Well it wasn’t a matter of it doing well, at that point, it was a matter of it of appearing to stabilize,” said Brian Lego, Research Assistant Professor with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Some areas such as natural gas production and stock indices were doing better than stabilizing however, they were growing.  

“Coal production has been and continues to be the major thing pulling down on the index,” Lego said. “We’ll likely continue to do so, even ignoring the impacts on the flooding going forward.”

The index measures unemployment insurance claims, which will now be higher in the flooded areas, causing problems for the economy in Southern West Virginia.

“Businesses were destroyed, so people are going to be out of their jobs,” Lego added.  “The cleanup itself is going to take some businesses out of commission for the time being, so you’ll se people having to file for unemployment insurance.”

Recovery for the economy the southern part of the state will take time, and Lego said stabilizing that region’s economy is key to improving West Virginia as a whole. He adds that while the economy won’t be as strong as it was when coal production is high, if it can be stabilized in the South, it won’t has as much of a negative effect on the state as a whole. 

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