Feds praise W.Va. for income growth
CHARLESTON — West Virginia received national praise Tuesday for leading the nation in personal income growth for the first three months of 2019.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, West Virginia led the nation in the first quarter of 2019 with a personal income growth rate of 5.6 percent.
West Virginia’s personal income growth eclipsed the national rate by 2.2 percent. The states surrounding West Virginia all had rates ranging from 3.5 percent in Ohio and Pennsylvania to 3.8 in Virginia. West Virginia joined 10 states — including the southern states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina — in having personal income growth rates between 4.6 percent and 5.6 percent.
West Virginia also had the fourth lowest percent change in transfer receipts — a term used to describe payment of government benefits, such as welfare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The state came in at 11.5 percent.
“Congratulations to (West Virginia) and (Gov. Jim) Justice for having the highest Q1 personal income growth…in the country with the 2nd highest earnings increase, but also the 4th lowest increase in government benefits income in the nation,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a tweet Tuesday morning.
“That’s pretty neat stuff,” Justice said while speaking at an event in Beckley unveiling State Farm Insurance as a sponsor on the West Virginia Turnpike. Later Tuesday, Justice released a statement going into more detail on the announcement.
“How much more proof do we need that our days of being dead 50th are long gone? To be the top state in the entire country for personal income growth — truly think about that, number one in the country — it’s absolutely phenomenal,” Justice said.
Earlier this month, Justice announced that the first 10 months of fiscal year 2019, starting July 2018 and ending in May, saw 11.5 percent growth in the state general revenue tax collections and is expected to exceed $500 million in general revenue collections at the end of the fiscal year on Sunday, June 30. Justice called this the highest growth rate in the country.
“Some people only want to talk about the bad and didn’t believe it when I announced we had the 2nd-highest overall revenue growth rate in the country,” Justice said. “But now, there is even more proof — from the U.S. Department of Commerce — that our economy is growing faster every day and we’re getting our people great-paying jobs right here in West Virginia.”
Still, with taking a look at the seasonally adjusted dollar amount at the annual rate, West Virginia only saw $75.8 billion in personal income compared to $724.4 billion in Pennsylvania, the highest of the surrounding states. The closest state to West Virginia was Kentucky with $190.7 billion.
The BEA attributed the personal income growth in West Virginia to growth in construction jobs. Natural gas pipeline construction and road maintenance and construction have led the way according to previous data released by the Governor’s Office.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts West Virginia’s May seasonally-adjusted construction job total at more than 47,000, up from 37,300 in May 2018 and slightly down from last month.
“Now people may finally start believing me when I say we have so much good going on in our state it’s unbelievable,” Justice said. “It’s time for the outside world to finally recognize that West Virginians are not going to tolerate being dead last anymore. Congratulations to all of our people on this incredible accomplishment!”