There are jobs to be found in north-central West Virginia, but the cost of buying a home is high.

Economists at West Virginia Universitys College of Business and Economics have issued a data analysis for the Morgantown metropolitan statistical area (MSA) that shows strong employment in 2008, but housing costs above the state and national averages.

Job growth in the Morgantown MSA continued to outpace the state and the nation through the first 10 months of 2008, according to the latest issue of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitora publication of WVU s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The Morgantown MSA includes Monongalia and Preston counties.

On average through the first 10 months of 2008, the Morgantown MSA added 1,577 jobs over the same period in 2007,said George W. Hammond, associate director of the bureau.

That translates into a job growth rate of 2.6 percent, which far exceeds the state rate of 0.3 percent and the national rate of 0.03 percent.

The Morgantown MSA added jobs in the goods-producing sectors during the first 10 months of the year, compared to the same period of 2007,Hammond said.Thats a big contrast with the state and the nation, which experienced job losses.

Manufacturing employment in Morgantown grew by 97 jobs, natural resources and mining employment added 92 jobs, and construction employment grew by 37 jobs.

However, most of the job growth in 2008 has come in the service-providing sectors, especially health care, state government, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality,Hammond said.

The job growth in 2008 reflects the dynamic nature of the local economy,he added.However, with the nation in a recession, local economic growth has slowed significantly in 2008 compared to 2007.

Also, for the third quarter of 2008, Morgantown was the most expensive area in the state for housing, according to another study in the Monitor.

Morgantowns housing costs were 7.4 percent above the national average and 19.7 percent higher than in the next most expensive housing area in West Virginia, Harrison County,said Amy Higginbotham, an economist with the bureau.

However, while housing costs were high, the total cost of living in the area is still average for an urban area in the U.S.

Other pricessuch as for grocery items and miscellaneous goods and serviceskept Morgantowns cost of living near the national average,Higginbotham said.

Groceries, which included prices for 26 items purchased by a typical household, were 0.3 percent cheaper in Morgantown than on average. Goods and services, such as a medium cheese pizza, a visit to the veterinarian or a mans haircut, were found to be 5.3 percent less expensive in Morgantown than in the average urban area.

This data comes from the ACCRA Cost of Living survey, which is compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research. It is a quarterly comparison of the costs of 60 specific items in urban areas throughout the nation. These items reflect a typical market basket of goods and services purchased by an upper-income household. These items are categorized into five types: groceries, health care, transportation, housing and miscellaneous goods and services.

The January edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor, a semiannual publication, contains the full analysis of these trends. Copies of the publication can be found at . Information about the ACCRA Cost of Living Report can be found at .