Flying High since 1998.

Washington County Virginia Loses Another 300 Jobs

by Lewis Loflin


The downward spiral of the region's economy isn't just centered on coal, but the continuing decline of better paying manufacturing jobs.

In June 2015 Sandvik Corporation, owned by a Swedish multinational, announced impending firing of 70 employees. The company that makes industrial abrasives will shift its production to Mexico.

City officials in Bristol and Washington County were once again caught off guard. Part of the company's problems extends back to the coal industry where the product is used in roof bolting machines, etc.

In July 2015 the community received even more dire news - Ball Corporation will be ceasing operations in Bristol Virginia idling another 230 workers. While the local press reports say they will be shifting the jobs to other facilities an Internet check turns up something totally different.

Ball Corporation has been canning its US labor force in multiple locations claiming a downturn in 12-ounce soda can production. Turns out that many of these jobs are going to be outsourced to a firm in Luxembourg. All told for Ball Corporation is letting go probably 1000 employees in half a dozen states.

What is particularly bad for Bristol if I remember correctly Ball is union and pay some of the best manufacturing wages in the area. This is far above low-wage employers such as Bristol Compressors.

What this means for these particular jobs that pay something and have been here long enough the employees actually have some seniority, benefits, and decent pay scales is the loss of real outside income will destroy two-three times that number of service and retail jobs. What that means here is more people will be going to part-time and reduced hours.

The tens of millions spent on tourism development to try to replace middle-class jobs with low-end and part-time service-retail jobs will do nothing for the region's already desperate employment statistics.