Research Reveals Big Shift in Employment Trends in Appalachia

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 catalogs 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.

Among the Report’s key findings: from 2012 to 2017, employment across all industries in Appalachia grew 4.7 percent. While growth was positive, employment nationwide grew 9.6 percent 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 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively. In 2017, the five industries with the largest employment shares in the Region were professional & technical services (12.1 percent), health and social services (11.6 percent), retail and trade (11.1 percent); state and local government (11.1 percent); and manufacturing (10 percent). In 2017, 10 percent of Appalachia’s total employment was in the manufacturing industry, a larger share than the country as a whole (6.8 percent).