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Report: Infrastructure Plan Could Bring Thousands of Jobs to WV

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Expanding broadband and modernizing West Virginia's electric grid could generate more than 15,000 new jobs, according to a new study. (Adobe stock)
Expanding broadband and modernizing West Virginia's electric grid could generate more than 15,000 new jobs, according to a new study. (Adobe stock)
 By Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV - Producer, Contact
February 26, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With the Senate considering President Joe Biden's massive infrastructure plan, a new study finds that West Virginia stands to gain thousands of living-wage jobs if the federal government invests in some of the plan's key projects.

Bankrolling broadband expansion, clean energy and a more sustainable transportation system would bring more than 41,000 jobs to the Mountain State, according to study lead author and University of Massachusetts Economics Professor Robert Pollin.

Based on federal government statistics, he said the jobs should be union-level - with good wages, conditions and pensions.

"These will be jobs across the board," said Pollin. "A lot of jobs in construction but also jobs in sales management, production, engineering, office support, chemists, farmers, community-service managers across the board."

He estimated the job creation would need about a $2 billion government investment, along with private funding. He urged lawmakers to back Biden's Build Back Better infrastructure plan, which, based on West Virginia's population, he said would bring in more than the $2 billion needed.

The study, put out by the Political Economy Research Institute, said these federal investments would counteract West Virginia's economic collapse from the pandemic and the crash of the coal industry. Pollin said infrastructure spending also would help build a foundation for a more sustainable Appalachia in the future.

"The unemployment rate today in West Virginia is 6.3%," said Pollin. "This can drive West Virginia to a near or total full employment economy. It also is going to attract more people into the state and revitalize the job market."

The report found that upgrading West Virginia's old electric system, expanding broadband and making homes and businesses energy efficient would create about 15,700 of the 41,000 new jobs, while cutting emissions and saving money.

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