CHARLES TOWN — Jefferson County enjoys the lowest unemployment in West Virginia, making it one of the few counties with a jobless rate below 5 percent through the second half of last year, according to WorkForce West Virginia.
The unemployment rate began its decline in Jefferson County in August, settling in at 5.1 percent before dropping even farther — to 5.0 in September, 4.5 in October, 4.1 in November and 4.8 in December — before jumping to 5.3 percent in January.
West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 7.4 percent in January. The national unemployment rate has hovered between 7.7 percent and 7.9 percent since September 2012.
Unemployment has increased in 53 counties. Two counties, Boone and Wyoming, reported a slight decline in their unemployment rates during January.
Counties with unemployment rates higher than 12 percent included Clay at 16.6 percent, Calhoun at 14.6, Webster at 14.6 percent, Wirt at 13.0 percent, Grant at 12.9, Roane at 12.9 and Wetzel at 12.3. The only counties with unemployment rates lower than 6 percent were Monongalia at 5.5 percent and Jefferson.
In December, Jefferson’s nonfarm payroll went from 16,220 in December to 15,630 in January.
Goods producing dropped from 1,480 in December to 1,470 in January and service providing went from 14,730 in December to 14,160 in January.
Approximately 12 million workers remain unemployed, with about 4.8 million of them considered long-term unemployed, having been jobless for 27 weeks or more.
A report from the national organization KIDS COUNT in December said that the number of teens and young adults who are unemployed and aren’t in school is rising.
The report said 40 percent of West Virginians ages 16 to 24 held a job in 2011 — down from 53 percent in 2000, which means there were about 56,000 teens and young adults in the state who were neither in school nor at work.
According to the KIDS COUNT report, these young people face growing competition from older workers for entry-level jobs. They also don’t have the skills required for available well-paying jobs.
The report also found that more than 20 percent, or 1.4 million of the unemployed youths, had children of their own.