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Unemployment rates climb in 53 of WV's 55 counties

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All but two of West Virginia's 55 counties experienced higher unemployment rates in December, according to information released Jan. 18 by WorkForce West Virginia.

Brooke and Pocahontas counties were the only two counties reporting lower unemployment in December when compared with November. Brooke County had a 9.4 percent unemployment rate last month compared to 9.8 percent in November, while Pocahontas was at 10.5 percent in December versus 11.3 percent two months ago.

The county with the largest percentage increase in unemployment was Calhoun, which saw its unemployment jump from 9.8 percent in November to 12.3 percent in December. However, when comparing December 2012 with the same month in 2011, the county's unemployment was actually slightly lower. In December 2011, unemployment in Calhoun County was 12.5 percent. 

Other counties that saw the largest monthly increases in unemployment were Roane, which went from 9.9 percent in November to 11.7 percent in December; Lincoln, which went from 8.5 percent to 10.2 percent; Boone, which went to 9 percent to 10.6 percent; and Wyoming, which went from 9.8 percent to 11.3 percent.

When looking at yearly numbers, Boone County had one of the highest unemployment increases between December 2011 and December 2012, climbing from 6.9 percent to 10.6 percent, a nearly 54 percent increase. Other counties that experienced large percentage rate increases between the two years were Wyoming, 43 percent increase; Clay, 38 percent increase; Mingo, 33 percent; Logan, 27 percent; McDowell, 17 percent; Raleigh, 16 percent; Nicholas, 14 percent and Webster, 14 percent.

Most of those counties are counties with a large coal mining presence.

On the flip side, Berkeley County's unemployment numbers went from 7.5 percent in December 2011 to 6.2 percent last month, a drop of 17 percent. Other Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands counties also fared well between December 2011 and December 2012. Jefferson County's unemployment rate dropped 14 percent, Randolph County's dropped 12 percent and Tucker dropped 11 percent. Hancock County, the state's northernmost county, also saw its unemployment rate drop by 12 percent.

According to WorkForce West Virginia, the counties with the lowest unemployment rates last month were Jefferson and Monongalia counties, both of which had rates of 4.8 percent, and Putnam County, which had a rate of 5.9 percent.

Seventeen counties had unemployment rates of more than 10 percent last month. Clay County had the highest rate at 14.9 percent, followed by Webster at 13.7 percent; Calhoun at 12.3 percent; Roane at 11.7 percent; Wetzel at 11.5 percent; Wyoming at 11.3 percent; Grant at 11.1 percent; Mingo and Wirt, which both were at 10.8 percent; Boone at 10.6 percent; McDowell and Pocahontas, which were both 10. 5 percent; Nicholas and Braxton, which were both at 10.3 percent; Lincoln at 10.2 percent; Mason at 10.1 percent and Logan at 10 percent.