The Beckley metropolitan statistical area, which includes Raleigh and Fayette Counties, is expected to gradually add jobs over the next five years, reversing the recent trend of job losses, according to the latest forecast from West Virginia University.

The economic forecast was released Dec. 4 by the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the Beckley MSA Economic Outlook Conference.

“The Beckley MSA has experienced a significant amount of economic volatility over the past several years,” said John Deskins, director of the BBER, which operates in the College of Business and Economics. “The region experienced healthy job growth between early 2010 and early 2012, but has since lost more than 2,400 jobs, many of which were in the coal industry along with several other key industries.”

“Fortunately, however, we do expect the current job losses to subside over the near term and, overall, the region will likely add jobs over the five-year forecast horizon,” Deskins said.

Unemployment in the Beckley MSA exceeds the state and national averages, but is expected to fall in coming years according to the forecast.

The health care industry is expected to produce the fastest rate of job growth going forward with a forecast of 1.7 percent average annual job growth. The leisure and hospitality sector is also expected to add jobs, according to Deskins.

The economic outlook did identify significant differences within the MSA between Raleigh and Fayette counties.

The report also illustrated population change in the MSA. The region has experienced population declines in recent years. Moderate population losses are expected to continue. While the expected population losses are driven by the likelihood that deaths will exceed births, a boost to migration into the region could alleviate this population decline, Deskins said.

Full details are available in the printed publication available from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research for free download in PDF format at



CONTACT: John Deskins, WVU College of Business and Economics; 304.293.7876

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