“While the nation has enjoyed over eight years of one the longest economic recoveries on record, West Virginia’s economic growth has been lacking,” Sean O’Leary, WVCBP senior analyst and report co-author said. “But a closer look shows two very different economies in the state. While the state’s urban areas have been characterized by moderate growth, more educated workers and higher incomes, the state’s rural areas have seen higher rates of poverty, less education in its workforce and nearly a quarter of a century of no net job growth.”
Rural West Virginia has been plagued with job losses from 2007 – 2016, losing more than 21,000 jobs, or eight percent, highlighting the uneven balance of West Virginia’s weak economic recovery.
Over the past decade, West Virginia has been one of the few states to lose population, and that loss has largely occurred in the state’s rural areas. Between the 2000 and 2010 decennial Census, West Virginia’s metro areas saw an increase in population of nearly 50,000 people, a five percent increase. In contrast, rural West Virginia experienced a population loss of roughly 4,600 people, a 0.6 percent decline.
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