NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

West Virginia's Labor Force Participation Rate Falls Below 50 Percent

January 15, 2015

The only state in the country to have a labor force participation rate below 50 percent is West Virginia, whose rate fell to 49.8 percent in November, according to Steve Goldstein at MarketWatch. That means that less than half of its citizens are working or looking for work.

Goldstein notes that Mississippi's rate is just slightly higher, at 50.8 percent. Meanwhile, the national labor force participation rate is 62.7 percent. Which state has the highest labor force participation rate? North Dakota, whose rate sits at 69.5 percent thanks to fracking and the oil and gas boom.

While West Virginia's unemployment rate is at 6.3 percent, lower than several other states, 17.6 percent of West Virginians are of working age but are receiving disability benefits. This is a much higher rate than the national average, which is 10.4 percent.

Source: Steve Goldstein, "The only state where less than half its civilians work," MarketWatch, January 14, 2015. 


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