How West Virginia is faring during labor shortages

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A labor shortage has spread across the U.S., leaving 10.4 million unfilled positions as of Oct. 12. Some states are faring with the shortage better than others, with some having a large disparity of workers and some with almost equal levels of open positions and unemployed workers.

According to a study by Career Cloud that ranked the states on how much they were impacted by the labor shortage, West Virginia is near the middle of the road with an unemployment rate of 5%. West Virginia also has less than one job opening per unemployed person in the state.

Unemployment rates vary across the country; Nevada has an unemployment rate of 7.7 % compared to 2.3% in Nebraska.

(Career Cloud image)

The study also determined that Hawaii has the fewest job openings per unemployed people, 0.41 jobs per person, and the District of Columbia has the most, 2.37 per person. 

As of the beginning of October, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 5.4 percent, with almost 9 million people being unemployed. The most unfilled job positions were in the trade, transportation and utilities fields.

The U.S has seen the direct impact of labor shortages in the transportation and trade field with a shortage of bus drivers, delays in USPS delivery and shortages on grocery store shelves. Many experts expect that holiday items might be more difficult to find as well.

Professions and business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality also reported high unemployment rates. Since the start of the pandemic, staff shortages have been a major concern for many hospitals, including WVU Medicine.

The Career Cloud study explained that the jobs that pay the highest, such as mining, logging and information jobs, have the lowest number of openings. With people less willing at minimum or low wage jobs, many historically low wage jobs such as fast food are offering higher hourly rates and sign-on bonuses.

Some people have blamed the increase in stimulus payments since the pandemic for the shortage of labor. Others presume that since so many people lost their jobs during the pandemic, they are more selective when choosing a new job; people got used to being at home and are finding it hard to go back. Childcare, skills gaps, and other causes are likely also playing a role. 

For the full list of states and how they are dealing with the labor shortage, click here.

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