West Virginia job growth sets record; budget concerns a worry

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and State Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts were quick to point to the highlights, 19,000 new jobs created in the past year. Strong areas for growth were health and education, which picked up 1,700 positions, but retail sales lost 900 jobs. The Governor says, overall, the economy is growing.

“It’s great news, it’s great news. You know we talked about the idea of, the possibility of, having to do 100 million dollars of budget cuts. And the reason we haven’t done that, is we’re still not sure we have to do it,” said Gov. Justice (R-West Virginia).

But Democrats worry a state economy showing even modest deficits and declining revenue, may not be as healthy as the governor suggests.

“The governor’s own people have told us that many of these new jobs are in either roads or pipeline construction, and those aren’t permanent jobs,” said Del. Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha).

Right now the main reason for the deficit is a decline in the severance taxes from coal and natural gas, and low energy prices. The mining industry in West Virginia had a net loss of 500 jobs in the past year.

“I think we do have to pay attention, particularly to the revenue that we’re getting from severance tax. But we’re seeing signs of encouragement from other areas. The holiday season will mean a lot,” West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts.

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