* Manufacturing businesses lost 10,600 jobs. Construction companies also lost jobs since 2007.
But the education and health services sectors added 12,300 jobs, reflecting the nationwide growth in health-care jobs.
The new "Jobs Count" report also mentions an increasing correlation between education and wages.
In 1980, West Virginia ranked dead last in the percentage of its work force with college degrees. But the Mountain State ranked 21st in median hourly wages.
In 2009, only 23.9 percent of West Virginia workers had college degrees; only Arkansas and Wyoming had lower percentages. Nationally, 32 percent of all workers had college diplomas.
But in 2011, West Virginia's median hourly wage of $15.02 dropped the state to 36th nationally.
Economic changes have made the link between wages and education stronger, O'Leary argues.
"Thirty years ago, it was relatively easy to find a high-paying job in manufacturing, even if one only had a high school education," according to "Jobs Count."
"Today, those types of jobs have all but disappeared, and most high-paying jobs tend to require a college degree, making a highly educated workforce more important than ever."
Over the past 30 years, the state has lost thousands of good paying jobs in industries like chemicals, coal and steel.
A full copy of the report is available at: www.wvpolicy.org/december-2012-jobs-count.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.