CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's manufacturing employment continues to erode but the job losses appear to be slowing, according to an annual survey by Manufacturers' News.Manufacturing employment fell 1 percent between July 2012 and July 2013, compared to 1.3 percent during the 2011-2012 survey period, the publishing company's 2014 West Virginia Manufacturers Register shows.Coal mining employment fell 5 percent to 11,829 jobs, but the industry remains West Virginia's top industrial sector.The largest decline occurred in the primary metals sector, which saw a 13.4 percent drop in employment. Manufacturers News said the decline was due in part to the shutdown of Wheeling Corrugating after its parent, RG Steel, filed for bankruptcy.Chemical manufacturing employment declined 3.3 percent to 7,948 jobs. There also were job losses in the furniture and fixtures; stone, clay and glass; and fabricated metals sectors.
Employment increased in the electronics, petroleum products, food products, rubber and plastic and transportation equipment manufacturing.Overall, the state lost 830 jobs. There are 1,866 manufacturers in West Virginia that employ a total 80,845 workers."The abundance of cheap natural gas combined with tougher EPA regulations continues to hurt the coal industry,'' Manufacturers News President Tom Dubin said Monday in a news release. "However, business conditions have improved slightly over last year, and employment losses are not as severe, which may signal a turnaround for the state.''Manufacturing employment in Huntington, which has the highest number of such jobs in the state, fell 4.2 percent to 5,777 during the latest survey period.Morgantown saw a 1.4 percent increase, while manufacturing jobs in Moorefield rose 1 percent. Martinsburg saw a 2.1 percent increase. Manufacturing employment in Charleston declined 2.6 percent.