Trump easily won West Virginia in 2016 with almost 70% of the vote by vowing to rejuvenate industry there. The Appalachian region has long suffered economically, with one of the highest percentages of people living in poverty at about one in five.
The projections show that the decline in West Virginia will be the most severe since May 2009 during the Great Recession. Moreover, the population has shrunk in all but nine of the state’s 55 counties since the 2010 census and statewide unemployment is among the highest in the U.S.
Pipeline construction related to natural gas had boosted the state’s economy in recent years, said John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research and an associate professor of economics at West Virginia University. “Now some of those projects are wrapping up, so those jobs are disappearing, naturally. I would say that is the biggest short-run negative for our economy.”