CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Things are looking bright for West Virginia’s economic future. That was the message at Tuesday’s 20th annual Economic Outlook conference held at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.
John Deskins, the director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University, released the forecast for where the state’s economy has been and where it’s going.
“Jobs are up. We’ve produced about three-thousand jobs from the middle of last year to the middle of this year. Unemployment is down. Per capita income is up, real gross domestic product is up,” Deskins said. “Those numbers have grown at rates that exceed the national rate by substantial margins.”
So how is the extended economic forecast looking for West Virginia? Deskins said it is positive.
“We do have a lot to look forward to and we’re growing.”
The Marcellus shale industry is continuing to boom.
“We have seen growth that has sky rocketed over the last three years in output. It’s very hard to predict when an industry is so dynamic,” said Deskins.
However, he said employment in the Marcellus shale industry is expected to grow by two percent in the next few years.
When it comes to coal, Deskins said it’s not all bad news. Even though thousands of jobs have been lost in the industry over the last five years, that’s starting to stabilize and the need for coal continues.
Deskins stressed there are two areas they are concerned about.
“We do see population decline and we do see an increased aging of our population. That’s probably the biggest negatives with our forecast going forward,” explained Deskins.
Experts say the only thing you can predict when it comes to economic predictions is nothing is a given. But Deskins said he’s not afraid to put his name behind this forecast.