What’s up with West Virginia?

Fiddling around with this chart of unemployment, I noticed that West Virginia has a large white patch - low unemployment and few layoffs, indeed job growth in some areas, in the past year, while the area surrounding it has higher unemployment.

The state's personal tax burden is slightly above average and it ranks 36th in corporate tax climate, so it's not necessarily employer friendly.

My first thought was that Robert Byrd's legacy was helping the state - it has a large number of federal and government employees, and government is one of the few areas still hiring today. But that's not the case - government employment only rose at a 1% rate last year. West Virginia has one of the lowest median incomes of any region, so keeping people employed is not as expensive as in other regions. In addition, workers compensation is pooled and paid by the state, not by firms.Furthermore, the coal industry has done well, adding workers at an 8% rate while the other private fields shed workers. The state has also spent responsibly, paying down liabilities when they had surpluses.

So pack up everything and move to the Mountain State! Or not.

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