After being on the job for just 11 months, Gov. Jim Justice’s efforts to jump start the state have been recognized nationally in a study that ranks West Virginia as having the fastest growing economy in the U.S. for 2017.
GOBankingRates has rated West Virginia first in the country in economic growth citing GDP growth, a decline in the unemployment rate and a moderate increase in personal income as the key factors in its report listing the 5 Strongest State Economies in 2017.
In a report released this week, GOBankingRates, a national personal finance website, says West Virginia ranked first in GDP growth and in unemployment rate decrease, and 17th in personal income growth.
“West Virginia enjoyed the highest economic growth rate of any U.S. state this year,” the GoBankingRates study said. “The global infrastructure boom means that the demand for metallurgical coal, which is used in steelmaking, has grown substantially. Natural gas prices are increasing as well, helping West Virginia make the top of the list.”
Gov. Jim Justice said the report confirms that the strategies he has established to put West Virginia on an aggressive path to economic recovery are working.
“I’ve promised the people of West Virginia we are not going to be 50th anymore we’re going to be first,” Gov. Justice said. “We are on the move and now this is just more proof we are growing. We have real hope.”
After inheriting a $500 million budget deficit when he took office in January, Gov. Justice has directed numerous efforts to revitalize the state economy. The centerpiece of that work includes passage of the Roads to Prosperity Bond referendum that will create tens of thousands of jobs and dramatically improve West Virginia’s transportation system and the recently announced deal that will bring billions of dollars in energy operation investments from China to the Mountain State.
During his campaign in 2016, Gov. Justice also predicted a turnaround in the coal industry in the state and it has happened.
“Coal severance taxes are on the increase and coal miners are returning to work,” Gov. Justice said. “Again, we have real hope. Our people are excited, they are smiling again. Better days are here and they are going to continue.”