As measured by percentage increase, West Virginia led the nation in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the first quarter of 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that West Virginia had a 5.2 percent growth rate.
GDP measures the value of economic activity. Strictly defined, GDP is the sum of the market values, or prices, of all final goods and services produced in an economy during a period of time.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross noted in a tweet that the Mountain State had the fastest state growth in personal income as well, with a 5.6 percent growth rate.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice also issued a statement, saying he was glad that the state was showing up at the top of rankings rather than at the bottom.
A leading contributor to the GDP growth in West Virginia, and the next two fastest growing states of Texas and New Mexico, was the mining industry, which includes natural gas.
The report showed that mining for the nation increased 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2019, after increasing 38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Some economists reported that West Virginia has benefited from recent growth in coal exports as well as natural gas activity, driven by the construction of major pipelines across the state, according to various media reports. They warned that once the pipeline construction is completed that many of those jobs would disappear and could have a negative impact on both GDP and personal income growth in the state.
Justice conceded in his statement that not all West Virginians are benefiting from the growth.
“There are still a lot of our people hurting, but at the end of the day, my No. 1 job is to make life better for all West Virginians, to provide them more job opportunities and more reasons to be proud of our great state, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Justice said in the statement.
On Friday, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released the second quarter GDP numbers for the nation, finding that the real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the second quarter, down from 3.1 percent in the first quarter.
On Friday, besides issuing its first of three estimates of growth in the April-June quarter, the government reported that by one measure, the economy grew more slowly in 2018 than it had previously estimated. As part of its annual revisions to GDP, the government downgraded its estimate for 2018 growth from 3 percent to 2.5 percent, according to The Associated Press.