UPDATE 3/15/11 @ 10:40 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia's unemployment rate remained unchanged in February at 10.3 percent.
Figures released Tuesday by WorkForce West Virginia show employment gains in the service sector such as leisure and hospitality, but losses in goods producing, including logging and mining.
A seasonal gain of 1,700 jobs in government was also reported.
Overall, unemployment in West Virginia topped 80,000 last month.
West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.4 percent. The national rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.9 percent.
West Virginia's unemployment rate has hit double digits, jumping above 10 percent in January, according to data released Tuesday by Workforce West Virginia. The unemployment rate in December was 9.4 percent.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.6 percent, which is above the national average of 9 percent.
Some graduating seniors at the University of Charleston have been closely watching the developments in the economy, just as they prepare to enter a competitive job market.
Student Erin Snyder says, "We're all excited to be graduating. But, we're nervous about where are we going to find a job?"
Emilee Barnette has about two months to get a job lined up. She’s hoping to stay in the Charleston area.
Barnette says she’s been soliciting advice from mentors and students in her major, interior design. She says she may not be too picky when it comes to getting her first job.
"Even though it might not be what your career goal is, do it anyway just to get the experience,” Barnette says.
Hannah Johnson, director of the university’s Center for Career and Development, has been counseling students for the last two years.
"They're worried about staying in West Virginia. We do have a lot of students, actually the majority of our students that I've found, want to stay in West Virginia," Johnson says.
According to Tuesday’s report, these students will join tens of thousands of people looking for work in West Virginia.
Workforce West Virginia reports the unemployment rate grew to 10.3 percent in January. The state previously hit that mark in February 2010. Before that, the state hadn’t seen such a high unemployment rate since the mid-1990s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In January, the state lost thousands of jobs in areas like construction, government, and leisure and hospitality.
The state lost 18,300 jobs that month.
But even in that period, state leaders say there were encouraging signs.
"Unemployment initial claims are down this year from where they were last year and the year before that. So, when I look at all the data that I see, I feel positive," says Russell Fry, acting executive director of Workforce West Virginia.
Graduate student Neha Rana says she feels positive, too.
She started before Christmas trying to find a job, and she recently got one in business.
Rana says, "I think right now the economy is changing, and there are jobs available. It's just who you know."
Workforce West Virginia said Tuesday that the unemployment rate increased by nine-tenths of percentage point to 10.3 percent. The rate in December was 9.4 percent.
The goods-providing sector lost 14,700 jobs, including 6,500 in government and 4,100 in trade, transportation and utilities.
Employment in the goods-producing sector declined by 3,600 jobs. The biggest drop occurred in construction, which lost 3,100 jobs.
West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.6 percent. The national rate dropped by four-tenths of a percentage point to 9 percent.
To check out a chart of W.Va. unemployment from the past ten years, click the link below.
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