West Virginia No. 1 in Personal Income Growth

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- You wouldn't normally think of West Virginia as the state with the most money, especially with a high unemployment rate of more than 10 percent.

However, a new study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows the personal income rate rose dramatically in the Mountain State and was the highest increase in the country last year.

"We think it's people that are maintaining their employment or finding other ways to stay employed during a down economy," Kelley Goes with the West Virginia Department of Commerce said.

It's an economy that for some local businesses hasn't been down at all.

"We've stayed pretty busy and we have seen a rise in our revenue each year we've been open," Bluegrass Kitchen owner Keeley Steele said.

People keep coming back to Bluegrass, allowing the owners to open a second restaurant just down the street and a third one on the way.

West Virginia has experienced a 2.1 percent growth in income compared with a decrease in national income by 1.7 percent.

There are contributing factors including disability insurance which is 3.6 percent higher than the national average, retirement and Medicare benefits, which are both 0.7 percent higher nationally. Also, Social Security is at an 0.7 percent higher rate, and veterans pension plans are up 1 percent.

Despite that, some Charleston businesses are hiring.

"We're constantly looking for good people," Steele said. "Sometimes we've even been known to hire people that we think would be an asset even if we don't need them."

Goes said, "Companies can come and locate here if they know that they have workers that can do the job and we have a great reputation as a workforce here in West Virginia."

West Virginia also saw an increase in place of work growth, which means companies are giving more money to workers. Only five states had that type of growth.

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