BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WVVA) - WVVA is helping to answer your questions about small business and personal finance. Joining us every Wednesday at 5 p.m. is John O'Neal, the Executive Director of the Development Authority of Mercer County.
WVVA: John, occasionally you bring us research and economic data concerning small business or average households in West Virginia. What do you have for us today?
O'Neal: I have a bit of good news as it relates to long term trends in the Mountain State. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, American households were earning more than they ever had before.
Nearly every state reported an increase in its median household income. In 2019, which is the most recent year in which we have the data, every state reported an increase in median household income.
The U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey recently released income and poverty data, and West Virginia was the most improved state in the nation.
Historically, West Virginia has been at the bottom of the list, and often trails the national average in income growth. However, after reporting a highest-in-the-nation 8.9% increase in median household income, the typical household in West Virginia now earns $48,850, an increase of $4,000 in one year.
This increase was well above the national average of approximately $3,000. West Virginia also reported one of the steepest declines in poverty of any state. the share of residents living below the poverty line fell from 17.8% in 2018 to 16.0% in 2019, a 1.8% point drop.
WVVA: What seems to be the reason for the improved economic climate in West Virginia?
O'Neal: It is hard to say exactly why so many families have seen increases in income. It is clear though that fundamental economic reforms enacted at the state level in recent years have contributed to the improving economic climate in West Virginia.
The West Virginia legislature has enacted tax cuts, regulatory reforms, and legal reforms. Many of these actions have positively impacted the bottom line of small business in our state. Small business is the economic backbone of our state. when they succeed, our people prosper.
Be sure to tune in every Wednesday at 5 p.m. for a new edition of SB Wednesday.