Workforce West Virginia recently released the unemployment numbers for July and Wetzel County has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the state at 12.6 percent. It was topped only by Brooke, 13.3; Hancock, 13.7; Clay, 13.8; and Mason, 14.5.
Given those numbers, it's not really surprising that over 700 people attended the Chesapeake Energy Employment Open House last week. Even if all of those people were from Wetzel County, which they weren't, and all of them were hired, which they won't be, it would only put four percent of our population to work. Dismissing other statistical variables, our unemployment rate would still be the statewide average of 8.6 percent.
Times are hard. During a downtrodden period in our local economy, we're glad to see at least our natural resources can help bolster things.
We hope many local residents get jobs with the gas exploration/production industry. We hope existing businesses get a boost from business generated through this industry. We hope those individuals who profit from the industry will use their proceeds to help local businesses and communities.
Sure, we know that some people, like the Wood family in the story on page 5A and the other residents of that area, are experiencing a lot of difficulties and we feel for them. However, this gas industry seems to be our current hope for progress and we had better foster and encourage it while keeping a watchful eye for our community's well being.