MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s coal industry has suffered an estimated 5,000 job losses in the last two years and the climate in Washington D.C. isn’t one that makes recovery look promising.

During down times, discussion has always turned to diversifying the state’s economy, so the down times won’t be such a large hit in the state.

Eric Bowen, research analyst with the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economics Research, said that’s always a good plan whether times are good or bad, but it’s seldom an easy one.

“It’s certainly a difficult prospect,” said Bowen. “Economic development is not easy.”

It may be an uphill climb for West Virginia, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. West Virginia’s oil and natural gas industries have enjoyed steady and significant growth in the last few years, but transitioning miners to drillers isn’t happening fast.

“So far, the number of jobs in the natural gas sector have not replaced the number of jobs lost in the coal mining sector,” said Bowen. “Natural gas is still a significantly smaller industry in the country than coal mining.”

Bowen said while there are no easy answers to where the next jobs will be for West Virginians to find work, he said it starts with improving the education level of the state’s workforce and continuing to try and lure other industries into the state.

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  • jss

    The bookman, you must have fallen asleep.

    • The bookman

      Just busy. Multitasking is obviously lost on you, sir or madam. When you know what you believe, and don't have to think about it prior to putting it in words, time can be utilized for other pursuits. You make many assumptions about those who post comments based on your own experience.

      • jss

        The Bookman, what do you believe? I would like an answer.

        • The bookman

          That is a very general question.

          In regards to this story? I am in agreement with Mr Bowen. Further, I think government should focus on those things under its mandate. Mr Bowen mentions education, but infrastructure is another major deficit we face, and funding those improvements in infrastructure is a major challenge.

          I am a lifelong WVian. I am committed to the community in which I live not because I have to be, but because I choose to be. WV is a great place. It can and should offer so many more opportunities to its citizens. Our strengths are the valuable natural resources we have available and the natural Eastern Mountain Beauty we have at our back door. Both can exist in conjunction with one another. That is our collective challenge. That is the more general answer of what I Believe.

          • Aaron

            I commend you for offering a response to someone who has no interest in debate.

  • jss

    Let us have the debate.

    • Aaron

      That's about what I thought.

    • Aaron

      Don't you have to do more than offer asinine comments in order to have a debate. Perhaps an opinion or something. If nothing else, can you not regurgitate something from one of those sites you follow?

  • jss

    Or me.

  • The bookman

    Nearly 40% of the posts on this story are yours, and you've added nothing to the conversation other than frustration that Aaron and others post frequently. In case you were not aware, this is a forum for opinion. Frequent posts do not indicate that those commenting have nothing to do. It really indicates a willingness to debate the issues. If you aren't up to it, then that's ok. But find some other hobby than taking parting shots at folks that do enjoy the debate. If you are up to it, then enjoy the process as you might just learn something.

    • jss

      So what is the debate you want to have with each other?

      • The bookman

        On this subject there would not be much debate between myself and Aaron. We both see the economic development as a largely private sector responsibility, so there would really be no difference if opinion. No need to +1 back and forth. However, there are others who see a more prominent role for government to play, and that would bring about a difference of opinion.

        Try this. Read the story. Do you agree or disagree? Put your thoughts together. And post a comment. See if that garners any interest.

    • The bookman

      In response to jss

  • jss

    What a bunch of dips. Yes, I did not have a lot to do today but look at what a bunch of chair rockers were doing. There are a lot smarter people out there in the hills and hollers than you think . Thank you.

    • Aaron

      As you've offered nothing of intelligence, we have know way of knowing if you are one of the smart people or not.

      My money's on not but that is only educated speculation.

  • Gary Karstens

    Time to diversify! Time to bring in the IT fields and renewable energy businesses. Time for some progressive thinkers in this state!

    • Aaron

      How about some specifics on each, particularly regarding renewable energy?

    • Hop'sHip

      Gary: You've been called out as a fraud. You don't speak for progressives and you aren't even speaking for yourself. Your game is over.

      • Gary Karstens

        And you speak for progressives???? Get out of here with your wishy-washy moderate crap!

        • The bookman

          Last week Silas was a liberal, this week HH is a moderate, and my arguments have been compared to communism. The world is upside down.

          • The bookman

            HH:

            I know, lower case.

          • Hop'sHip

            Bookie: You're being modest.

  • jss

    No, you are way to smart for me to take on. That is why you are Gov., CEO, whatever. With your voting record you should run for an office!

  • jss

    wirerowe, You make my case.

  • Aaron

    Politicians trying to make economic decisions for political gain rarely if ever pay off. Far too often, politicians reward campaign contributors with government contracts given to companies that private entrepreneurs would never touch.

    From hundred of billions of dollars lost on companies like Solyndra to policies that do more harm than good like ethanol fuel, which requires more btu's to produce than it provides while adding to potentially irrevocable environmental damages, government trying to pick winners has a long history of failure.

    Like it or not, government simply does not do a good job of diversifying any economy. That function is better left to the private market.

    • jss

      Aaron, please contribute to the private market; otherwise, you and the other twenty commentators on this website should shut up.

      • Aaron

        Clearly as you offered no rebuttal to my comments your ability to debate the issue is severely lacking thus I'm not sure why I would listen you you jss and shut up. My recommendation is if you do not desire my thoughts, do not read my comments. Even you should be able to grasp such a simple concept.

        • jss

          Simple concept indeed. Buy stock in an industry that does not base its business model in extracting a natural resource from West Virginia. Buy stock in a company that is INVESTING in West Virginia. That is how the private market should work. Your comments on how government should work are best left to an actual voter rather than a complainer.

          • Aaron

            The article and my comment dealt with the state diversifying the economy, not private industry.

            As someone who's voted in EVERY election since my 18th birthday, I try to inform myself a little bit.

            Care to try again jss?

          • Wirerowe

            I are with Wes Bowen.Les I would hope the 20 commentators that you refer do not know less than you. Please elaborate on what your investments are acceptable to you. Your inference that investment in fossil fuels is not an investment in West Virginia is absolute nonsense. If you do not like fossil fuels that is fine but to ignore the vital role that fossil fuels have played played or 100 years and will play for the next 50 next 50 years in our nations's economy and economic growth is naive and unrealistic.