WEB EXCLUSIVE: Study shows West Virginia’s economy ranked 50th in the country

West Virginia

FILE image. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – A recent study shows West Virginia’s economy ranked number 50th out of 51 states (including D.C.) in the country in terms of its economic potential, rate of employment, and growth.

The study also shows West Virginia has one of the lowest business start-up activities, one of the lowest median annual household incomes, and one of the lowest percentages of jobs in high-tech industries.

Still, leaving 2021, the unemployment rate was 4%, which is a record low for the state, and a local economist says, as we move into the new year, he’s “optimistic” about what residents can expect to see.

Boniface Yemba, an Assistant Professor of International Business for Marshall University, says West Virginia’s economy in 2021 was better than 2020.

He says there are three major contributors to the economic condition WV is seeing. “The first one is the disruption of the supply chain – which is creating an ‘economic gap.’ The second and third reason is pressure on price and access to vaccination,” explains Yemba.

“Nowadays the major problem with the economy is how we can handle the pandemic. A new variant of COVID-19 will increase the problems we currently have because there’s a lack of information between when we have a new variant and how we’re going to handle it. There’s always a gap – usually it’s 2-3 months,”

Boniface Yemba, Assistant Professor of International Business for Marshall University

Can we expect more jobs by summer?

“In 2021 we had two variants, we had the Delta and then at the end of the year we had to Omicron Variant – so it depends on a possible new variant. And it also depends on the vaccination rate. If we can get more people vaccinated, more people would feel comfortable going back to work,” explains Yemba.

He says with the information the state and country hold in terms of the pandemic, he hopes that has a positive effect on the economy.   

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