As we celebrate a number of economic wins here in West Virginia, it is a good reminder of just how far we have to climb that according to WalletHub’s “2023’s Best and Worst State Economies,” we are still a rock-bottom 51st in the nation. When it comes to “which states are pulling the most weight even during this time of economic difficulty caused by inflation,” we are among the states being pulled along.
West Virginia is 41st in change in GDP, 29th in exports per capita, 51st in startup activity, 50th in percentage of jobs in high-tech industries, 48th in change in nonfarm payrolls, 45th in government surplus/deficit per capita and 32nd for unemployment rate.
Among the problems is our continued inability to develop, attract and retain — not just highly skilled workers, but anyone.
“Attracting and retaining quality talent goes hand in hand with attracting and retaining quality businesses. In today’s labor market, employees can live where they want and work virtually anywhere. So, people-friendly amenities – especially those that attract and retain young innovative talent — should be an emphasis. And this can span arts, quality and availability of educational programs, healthcare, entertainment, sports, culture, lifestyle, climate, etc.,” said Dennis L. Hoffman, a professor and director of the L. Wm. Seidman Research Institute and the Office of the University Economist at Arizona State University.
Granted, we may see some changes in these kinds of reports as some of the larger economic development projects we HAVE attracted gain momentum. But the bottom line is we’ve got to stop fighting so hard against the work being done by our community and state economic development officials by rewarding politicians who are determined to keep us at the bottom and in the dark.
Their influence is waning, but it has not yet been stamped out entirely. It may feel as though we have accomplished a great deal in spite of them, but numbers don’t lie. Recent ripples of success will need to become massive waves if we are to make it out of the hole we are in. Step one will be ensuring we are all — truly — working toward that goal.
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