Locals prioritize jobs in election - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Locals prioritize jobs in election

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On the night of the presidential debate, many people in Charleston had one issue on their minds: jobs.

 "The most important issue would be jobs," said Santiago Zachary. "Get the country back going. The economy's been tough."

"The most important issue to me is the economy and jobs, or the lack thereof," said Al Lynch. "I know a lot of people my age just graduating college and having trouble finding a job."

The unemployment rate in West Virginia is 7.5 percent, which is lower than the national average, but it seems like people in Kanawha County are still struggling to get by. One man by the name of "Scott" said he panhandles for a living while he searches for a job.

"Sometimes people yell and cuss at me and say, 'Get a job, you bum,' or they give me a dollar," Scott said. "it's rough living out on the streets."

Brandon McKnight is a panhandler in Kanawha City who dresses up as a coal miner. Whether he really is an unemployed miner, his struggle resonates with West Virginians.

"It's hard out here for coal miners," McKnight said.

In September alone, Alpha Natural Resources shut down eight mines. Patriot employees rallied for their benefits and jobs at a United Mine Workers rally in Charleston. The Peerless Rachel mine in Comfort laid off upwards of 100 employees.

"There are so many miners being laid off, especially underground," said Kadie Halstead, the daughter of a coal miner. "Coal is not a favored job at this moment."