West Virginia's Renewed Hope In Coal, Tourism

After suffering population loss and poverty for decades, West Virginia recently posted a decline in the unemployment rate, spurred by the resurging coal, tourism, and construction industries.
June 13, 2006, 12pm PDT | David Gest
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"Coal, which built McDowell County, nearly destroyed it. As technology mechanized the work, jobs were cut. As mineral prices fell, jobs were cut. As easily worked seams disappeared, jobs were cut.

Companies left, and the people did too. McDowell County, once one of the largest coal producers in the nation, lost three-quarters of its population in the past 50 years.

Now, in this poorest corner of the poorest state in the nation, something remarkable is happening: Jobs are coming back.

It's not only here. It's a microcosm of the state. West Virginia is benefiting from a recharged coal industry at the same time that construction and tourism also are going strong. Its unemployment rate has dipped below 4 percent in recent months, better than the nation -- better than the state has ever seen."

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Published on Monday, June 12, 2006
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