After a sluggish start to the year, the Mountain State Business Index is back on track, according to John Deskins, director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business & Economic Research.
The business index, which factors in seven critical economic indicators, showed improvements for the third consecutive month. The index grew 0.4 percent from June, and 1.9 percent year-over-year.
Decreasing initial unemployment insurance claims provided the largest jolt to the index. Claims decreased 11.8 percent from last year, and 33.7 percent from six months ago.
Deskins said a nationwide trend of decreasing unemployment insurance claims is helping drive the state’s index and economy forward.
“A year ago, no one would have expected how much it’s falling,” Deskins said. “It’s a healthy pace.”
For the first time in five months, construction permits for new single-family houses increased by 5 percent.
“We have been expecting home construction to improve for some time, but it’s taken longer,” Deskins said. “It looks like it is finally turning around.”
The index showed some growth in West Virginia’s coal and natural gas industry.
According to a new Bureau of Labor and Statistics report, nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rates were lower during June in 359 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 10 and unchanged in three areas, year-over-year.
The release showed West Virginia’s overall unemployment rate at 5.4 percent for June. That decreased from 6.5 percent in May. Charleston’s metro area followed the state trend with a 6.1 percent unemployment rate for May and 5.4 percent for June.
“We are very confident we are going to have steady improvement,” Deskins said, “but we’re hopeful for accelerated improvement.”
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