Job growth in the Morgantown MSA (Monongalia and Preston counties) stalled in the third quarter of 2009, according to the latest edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.
The Morgantown MSA lost 40 jobs from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009, which translates into a 10 percent decline in job growth. The third quarter ends in September.
“The local economy is feeling the impact of the global downturn, but is still doing better than either the state or the nation,” said George W. Hammond, associate director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research. During the past four quarters, the state lost jobs at a rate of 3.3 percent, while the nation lost jobs at a 4.2 percent rate.
Morgantown has generated strong job growth during the past four quarters in leisure and hospitality, health care and other services, as well as making more modest gains in government, professional and business services and information. The region has also posted large job losses in natural resources and mining (concentrated in Preston County) and manufacturing, as well as more modest losses in construction, financial activities, and trade, transportation and utilities.
The downturn is also evident in the local, non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which has risen from 2.7 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to 5.3 percent in the third quarter of this year. However, the local rate remains well below the state rate (8.3 percent) and the national rate (9.6 percent).
House prices drive up local cost of living
For the third quarter of 2009, Morgantown’s cost of living was 1.2 percent above the national average, according to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which compared prices of 60 specific items in 309 urban areas located within the United States. In addition, in comparison to urban areas located within West Virginia or with similar characteristics, Morgantown’s cost of living was relatively high.
“Local house prices are an important factor driving the local cost of living,” said Amy Higginbotham, economist at the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Local housing costs are estimated to be 12.4 percent above the national average.
This data comes from the ACCRA Cost of Living survey, which is compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research, 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. They are categorized into five types: grocery items, healthcare, transportation, housing and miscellaneous goods and services.
The December 2009 edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor, compiled by the WVU College of Business and Economics Bureau of Business and Economic Research, contains the full analysis of these trends. The monitor is a semi-annual publication of the BBER. Copies of the publication can be found at www.bber.wvu.edu. Information about the ACCRA Cost of Living Report can be found at www.coli.org.
CONTACTS: George W. Hammond, WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research
Amy Higginbotham, WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research