The Morgantown Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Monongalia and Preston counties, was one of the few regions in the state to add jobs last year, according to the latest edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.

The metropolitan area added 370 jobs from 2008 to 2009, but performance was very different across the two counties in the MSA.

“Monongalia County added 830 jobs last year, by far the most of any county in the state, while Preston County lost 460 jobs,” said George Hammond, associate director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. There were only four other counties in the state that added jobs last year, with the rest either stable or losing jobs.

Recent data show that the metropolitan area has continued to do well through the first quarter of 2010.

“Data for the first quarter of 2010 shows that jobs in the Morgantown area are up 0.9 percent compared to a year earlier,” Hammond said. “That far outpaces the state and the nation, at minus-2.6 percent and minus-2.4 percent, respectively.”

However, at 0.9 percent, job growth in the metropolitan area has slowed dramatically.

“Job growth averaged 2.9 percent per year from 2003 to 2008,” Hammond said. This slower growth is reflected in a significant increase in the Morgantown unemployment rate, which was 5.1 percent in 2009, compared to 2.9 percent in 2008. However, the local rate remains well below the state (7.9 percent) and national (9.3 percent) rates in 2009.

Local job growth during the past four quarters was concentrated in government; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services. The Morgantown MSA experienced significant job losses in mining, construction, and manufacturing during the past four quarters, which reflects the impact of the global downturn on the local economy.

Finally, Morgantown’s cost of living was 1.5 percent above the national average in the first quarter of 2010, according to data compiled by the WVU BBER. That was higher than the estimated cost of living for Harrison County (4.6 percent below average), Charleston (7.5 percent below average), and Martinsburg (10.7 percent below average).

This data comes from the ACCRA Cost of Living survey, which is compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research and 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 purchases by an upper-income household and include five types: grocery items, healthcare, transportation, housing, and miscellaneous goods and services.

The June 2010 edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor, compiled by the WVU BBER, 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 Information about the ACCRA Cost of Living Report can be found at



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CONTACT: George W. Hammond, Associate Director, BBER
(304) 293-7876 or