Understanding Low-Wage Work in West Virginia

A Look at the People, Industries, Places, and Policies Affected by Low-Wage Work in West Virginia

September 8, 2017
Media Contact: Caitlin Cook

[Charleston, WV] – Poverty is a persistent problem in West Virginia, where tens of thousands of West Virginians live in poverty because their jobs do not pay a living wage. Read the full report.

This 10th annual State of Working West Virginia focuses on low-wage work, including demographics of those who do the work; the industries that employ them; geographic factors; the role of public programs supporting low-wage workers; and policy recommendations to improve economic well-being.

The report reveals the shifting role of low-wage work in the state’s economy, now its main source of job growth, and a path no longer confined to young workers entering the workforce. The complete picture of West Virginia’s economy shows growth in low-wage industries, while non-low wage industries decline, and wages stagnate for both.
“Low-wage work has a profound impact on West Virginia’s economy, from the capabilities of workers to provide for their families, to their health and well-being, all the way to the state budget,” said Sean O’Leary, Interim Executive Director for the West Virginia on Center on Budget and Policy. “As low-wage jobs become more prevalent in the state’s economy, we must consider public policies that support these workers and their families, recognizing their importance to the state.”

Key Findings

  • Twenty-three percent of the state’s workforce is employed in low-wage jobs.
  • Forty-four percent of West Virginia’s workers with less than a high school diploma earn low wages, while the rate of low-wage workers who possess a high school degree or some college is 28 percent.

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(Full PDF of Report)

New Study Released on the Impact of Prevailing Wage Repeal in West Virginia

January 28, 2015

The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, a division of the West Virginia State Building Trades, has just released a study by Michael Kelsay, Ph.D., University of Missouri- Kansas City, Dept. of Economics, on the adverse economic impact from prevailing wage repeal in the state. Please follow the link below for a full copy of the report.

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