West Virginia ranks 37th in ‘Rich States, Poor States’ report

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While in the process of trying to balance a budget for next fiscal year, West Virginia is being reminded of the condition of its current economy.

The Mountain State ranked 37th out of all 50 states, according to the 2016 State Economic Outlook Rankings in the “Rich States, Poor States” report released by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The state dropped several spots since 2014 when it ranked 22nd on the State Economic Performance Rankings.

But Jonathon Williams, co-author of the report, said that number could improve over the next year, especially with West Virginia’s new right to work law.

“I think there is a silver lining to this ranking certainly with the right to work improvement coming on the books next year. I think you’re going to find yourself middle of the pack,” he said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The outlook ranking is based on a state’s current standing in 15 state policy variable. The report says, in general, states that spend less — especially on income transfer programs and states that tax less on productive activities like working or investing — tend to experience higher growth rates compared to other states that spend more.

“If you look at the nine states without income taxes like Texas and Florida they’re just booming, just amazingly compared to the states with high income taxes like New York or California,” Williams said. New York was at the bottom of the economic outlook list. California was ranked 46th.

Utah was at the top of the economic outlook list. Williams said that is because the state has a low flat tax on income.

“They’ve kept generally spending fairly low and the other thing that they’ve done which is really a head of the curb — they reformed their state pension system,” he said.

The performance ranking is based on three variables including the state’s gross domestic product, absolute domestic migration and non-farm payroll employment. The variables are highly influenced by state policy, the report said.

Texas was ranked 1st on the performance chart. Michigan held the 50th spot.

To view the full report, click here.