State of Working West Virginia 2016

A persistent question for those who pondered West Virginia’s fate is a simple: why, in a state rich in natural resources, are West Virginians so poor? For more than a century several explanations have been developed by natives and interested “outsiders.” Read the full report.

This report, the ninth annual investigation of The State of Working West Virginia, comes at one of those times when national attention has been drawn to the state in the wake of the 2016 elections. In an even more unusual twist, much national discussion has focused around the conditions of our working class, an example of which is the surprise success of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Cu lture in Crisis. This analysis is an effort to cut through often overheated rhetoric and look at the available data and at historical trends.