WVU economist calls Mylan closure a severe blow to the regional economy

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The announcement from Viatris last week that it will be closing its Mylan Pharmaceuticals facility has big implications for North Central West Virginia.

According to John Deskins, director of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economics, who said the 1,500 jobs lost represent a big chunk of the roughly 110,000 jobs in the region. Furthermore, Deskins said the local economy’s impact would go beyond the direct loss of jobs at Mylan.

Deskins

It’s a heavy blow — that loss in it of itself is a heavy blow. Furthermore, those people who work for Mylan, those people who are going to see a cut in their income now, they spend money in the local economy. They spend money at bars, movie theaters, and just anywhere that you spend money locally, those people spend money there. So the 1,500 jobs lost directly is a severe blow to the North Central West Virginia economy, but the economic fall out is going to be even worse than that as their spending in the economy dries up. Overall, the hit will be much harder than those direct job losses indicate.

John Deskins – Director, WVU Bureau of Business and Economics

Even worse, Deskins said, many of those who will be let go after the closure currently work high paying and high-skilled jobs that are not easy to come by in the region. This could further exacerbate the financial problem because tax revenue will be impacted, and so could the housing market. If former Mylan employees decide to take their talents elsewhere, there’s a real possibility that decision could reduce housing prices in the Morgantown region for a couple of years.

Despite all the negative repercussions, Deskins said he was not totally surprised by the announced closure. In fact, he said, the WVU Bureau of Business and Economics has listed Mylan’s closure as a potential risk in its economic outlook report for the last two or three years now.

Now that the decision and announcement to close has been made, there’s no looking back, only looking forward to solutions. Deskins said North Central West Virginia has a lot of strengths that could help attract potential businesses in many ways.

“We have good human capital outcomes, we have a relatively diverse industrial landscape here in North Central West Virginia, so we have underlying strengths that can create positives for those people to find employment elsewhere,” Deskins said. “But overall this is not going to happen overnight. This is a lot of jobs lost for this region, so like I said, it’s going to take a couple of years to recover from this. We’re not going to replace these jobs just over the course of one or two months — not by any means.”

Deskins said there’s a risk the situation especially won’t resolve itself because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has already dealt a significant blow to the local economy, and the loss of 1,500 jobs on top of that could mean the recovery period could last longer than a couple of years.

However, Deskins said that an end to the coronavirus pandemic is in sight gives the region’s economic outlook a boost.

“It looks like COVID is coming to an end with these vaccinations, so maybe COVID won’t make the problem that much worse, since it’s fortunately, at least, coming on the tail end of COVID, it seems,” Deskins said.

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