CHARLESTON — State Senate president Mitch Carmichael says West Virginia is seeing an economic resurgence like never before.
Carmichael, R-Jackson, said after voters changed course in 2014 and went from a single-party Democratic control, things began to change for the state.
"After 83 years of single-party control, they had the courage to change directions," Carmichael said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "As a result, after President Trump’s election, the things the Republican legislature’s put in place, the leadership of Republican Gov. Jim Justice, West Virginia is now among the fastest growing states in the nation."
Carmichael said this is good news for West Virginia.
Mitch Carmichael Perry Bennett, WV Legislative Photography
"We’ve added jobs and the wage rates are up," Carmichael said. "The unemployment rate is down. We’ve added more construction jobs, more manufacturing jobs, more mining jobs — it’s all in a positive direction."
Carmichael said for years, people lost hope in West Virginia because of the lack of jobs.
"This provides the opportunity for people to find employment in West Virginia, to raise their families in West Virginia and to live their dreams and aspirations here in the Mountain State," Carmichael said. "Before you were forced to leave to find work. This is great for our schools and for our communities. There are opportunities for our churches—all the social activities. It is just good news all around for our state."
On Aug. 7, Justice reported the Fiscal Year 2018 surplus of $36 million is the first time the state has finished a fiscal year in the black, without a budget cut, since 2012 and that the state set an all-time high for General Revenue Fund Collections with $4.245 billion. The previous record was $4.196 billion in FY 2015.
“During the first month of FY 2019, General Revenue Fund Collections were above estimate by $32.4 million and were up 24 percent from prior year receipts, that’s the largest growth rate for July since FY 2011,” Justice said. “Sales tax collections, personal income tax collections, consumer sales tax collections were all up over 13 percent in July.”
Also, the U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced that the national gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
Employment has also been reduced by 1.4 percent since January 2015 — with West Virginia experiencing the largest reduction in unemployment rates in the country between March 2016 and March 2017 at 5 percent. This was a nine-year record low, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In January 2015, West Virginia's unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, but, 3 1/2 years later it had fallen to 5.3 percent as of June.
Carmichael said the American Dream is once again attainable and there is an excellent economic comeback happening in West Virginia under Republican leadership.
West Virginia experienced the highest GDP percentage growth in the nation from the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017 at 6.48 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
West Virginia's GDP growth throughout 2017 was in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.