Factors add up to a poor view of economy
West Virginians were a little more upbeat about the economy in 2012, but not enough to escape the tag of being the most pessimistic residents of any state in the nation, according to a Gallup study.
In the Gallup Economic Confidence Index for 2012, West Virginia had the lowest economic confidence average of "negative 42." The index rates Americans' views of current U.S. economic conditions and of the economy's direction.
West Virginia wasn't alone in a less-than-rosy outlook. Nationally, the average rating was negative 21; the most positive state -- Minnesota -- was still at a negative number at minus 8. But it was the third year in a row that West Virginians expressed the least confidence.
The reasons for that are varied, according to Gallup officials and an assessment by West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette.
One likely factor is a large majority of Mountain State residents are not fans of President Barack Obama, as evidenced by his failure to carry a single county in the state in the November election. Adding to that are Obama administration policies seen as threatening one of West Virginia's economic underpinnings, the coal mining industry, which also has been diminished by other factors.
Another likely factor is that West Virginia often doesn't feel economic slowdowns as severely as many other states and also doesn't feel the bounceback that other states do during a recovery. And keep in mind, the state's unemployment rate changed very little during the past year.
Despite all that, the state's outlook is slightly better than it was in 2011, when it had a confidence average of negative 49.
Let's hope 2013 will be a better year.