WORKFORCE WV DIRECTOR PROVIDES UPDATES ON JOB JUMPSTART PROGRAM, LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE
Also on Tuesday, Gov. Justice was joined by WorkForce West Virginia Director Scott Adkins, who started his remarks by providing an update on the Governor’s new Job Jumpstart Program, which provides a one-time, $1,500 payment to eligible West Virginians who get a new job and remain employed for at least eight weeks.
“The primary purpose of Jumpstart is to get folks back in the workforce,” Adkins said. “We have employers who are reaching out to WorkForce every day, looking for skilled laborers, looking for folks who have technical skills.
“There are plenty of jobs out there. We see signs in every community as you travel throughout West Virginia,” Adkins continued. “To put it in perspective, in January 2022, West Virginia had 50,000 job postings. At the same time, we had 34,800 unemployed folks – that’s 1.4 jobs available for every unemployed West Virginian.
“So, under the Governor’s leadership, we launched our new Job Jumpstart Program and I could go on and on about how successful this program has been in just a short period of time.”
Last week, WorkForce West Virginia announced that over 12,500 West Virginians have been approved to participate in the program.
Adkins went on to say that the program is critical to improving civilian labor force participation in West Virginia.
“Overall, West Virginia’s labor force participation rate has increased nearly 2% since 2015. However, it has remained relatively static since 2019, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adkins said. “When you get granular in some of the data to figure out what age groups we lag behind the national average, 16 to 24 is a huge group that’s not working that should be working, as well as folks over the age of 50.
“The state lost approximately 46,000 residents from 2012 to 2022, which further decreases that population that’s available to work. West Virginia’s job demand has grown substantially over the past decade, from an average of 22,167 monthly job postings in 2011 to an average of over 56,000 monthly job postings in 2021,” Adkins continued. “One of the issues that we face with our labor force participation rate is that, because we’re surrounded by five different states, 13.1% of West Virginians who are eligible to work are working in another state. The national average is 3.1%.
“Under Governor Justice’s leadership, the state Workforce Development Board has put together a strong group of leaders from the business community, state government, and other organizations to strengthen West Virginia’s workforce development system. So we really think that we’re going to be able to improve some of those numbers.”