Home » New research by ARC finds positive post-recession employment growth in region

New research by ARC finds positive post-recession employment growth in region

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) released Industrial Make-Up of the Appalachian Region, a new report examining employment and earnings across the region. Drawing on data from 15 industry sectors, the report catalogues how the region’s industrial make-up and earnings compare to that of the country as a whole. The report primarily focuses on the period from 2002–2017 — the years immediately before, during, and after the Great Recession — and finds that employment growth varies across the region. Overall, while post-Recession employment growth has been positive in Appalachia, it lags behind the growth that was experienced by the country as a whole. The report also finds an overall employment shift across the region towards professional & technical services; health & social services; and tourism-related jobs.

“Good data yields good policy, and I am pleased our Research and Evaluation team has detailed the economic picture over a critical 15-year period of change and growth for Appalachia, when economic challenges have significantly impacted both the nation and our region specifically,“ said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “Understanding where we are seeing growth and in which sectors helps guide our investments toward a resilient and strong Appalachian economy.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • From 2012 to 2017, employment across all industries in Appalachia grew 4.7%. Growth was positive, yet lagged behind the country as a whole which grew 9.6% during the same time period.
  • From 2012 to 2017, the fastest growth in employment occurred in Appalachia’s South Central and Southern subregions, at 6.6% and 10.4%, respectively.
    • The Appalachian counties in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina saw faster growth in employment than in the states’ respective non-Appalachian counties.
    • The Appalachian counties in Kentucky, New York, and Virginia all experienced declines in employment, compared to the positive employment growth that took place in these states’ non-Appalachian counties. In both Appalachian Kentucky and Appalachian Virginia, employment in the coal, gas, and other mining industry experienced large declines from 2012 to 2017: 37% and 38%, respectively.
  • In 2017, the five industries with the largest employment shares in the region were professional and technical services (12.1%), health and social services (11.6%), retail and trade (11.1%); state and local government (11.1%); and manufacturing (10%).
  • In 2017, 10% of Appalachia’s total employment was in the manufacturing industry, a larger share than the country as a whole (6.8%).
  • In 2017, 11.6% of Appalachia’s total employment was in the health and social services sector, compared with 11.3% for the United States as a whole. Additionally, 9.2% of the region’s employment belonged to the food, lodging, and entertainment industry, comparable to the 9.8% found at the national level.
  • Together, finance, insurance and real estate; food, lodging, and entertainment; health and social services; manufacturing; professional and technical services; retail trade; state and local government; and wholesale trade and transportation make up roughly 75% of the region’s employment share.

The full report, as well as links to state-by-state fact sheets indicating largest employment shares and fastest growth in employment by sector for each of Appalachia’s 13 states, is available here.