The best way for West Virginia to grow its economy is by investing in a well-educated workforce, according to a new paper from EARN—the Economic Analysis and Research Network, a project of the Economic Policy Institute, which includes the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
In Education Investment is Key to State Prosperity, Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, and Peter Fisher, research director at the Iowa Policy Project, find a strong link between the educational attainment of state workforces and both productivity and median wages. Expanding access to high-quality education will create more economic opportunity for West Virginians and do more to strengthen West Virginia’s overall economy than anything else.
“With the evidence clearly showing that the best way to grow the state’s economy starts with a well educated population, our state’s leaders should think carefully before making even more cuts to higher education,” stated Sean O’Leary, Fiscal Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “With West Virginia already ranking near the bottom for educational attainment, we can’t afford to make higher education more difficult to attain.”
According to the paper, ways to increase the educational attainment of West Virginia’s population include: working to slow the growth of college tuition, increasing financial aid, investing in quality K-12 education and funding quality child-care programs.
Meanwhile, strategies such as cutting taxes to lure employers and capture private investments from other states are shortsighted, and promote a race to the bottom which undermines states’ ability to invest in and attract an educated workforce. The paper finds no clear relationship between a state’s tax rates and its wages.
The full report is available at here.
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