CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — The economic upswing is being credited to a significant increase in coal production, and the construction of natural gas pipelines across the Mountain State. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, West Virginia had the highest state economic growth rate in the first quarter of this year. It also had the highest growth for income, and a record number for state tax revenue.
“That translates into real money in the pockets of West Virginia families. The people we most need here. And it’s because our business climate has improved,” said Steve Roberts, President, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
But some are not as optimistic. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy believes the boom in the energy sector is the driving force, but others are not benefiting.
“The rest of the economy, you know retail, professional workers, management of companies. All those different sectors in the GDP aren’t seeing this growth. This is not a rising tide lifting all boats in our economy,” said Sean O’Leary, of the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy.
Despite good numbers recently, the Chamber of Commerce recognizes that more job training is needed.
“We have 20-thousand job openings in West Virginia right now. And we have 40-thousand unemployed people in West Virginia,” said Steve Roberts, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
Still, even the U.S. Secretary of Commerce “tweeted” about West Virginia’s recent economic success.
“Whether or not the West Virginia economy states on the right track for the long-term remains to be seen. But after years of deep deficits and majors cuts, the last few years we’ve actually seen budget surpluses here at the Capitol,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.