Economy of West Virginia

By | March 4, 2023

West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the United States, with a population of 1.8 million people. It is known for its rural character and natural beauty, as well as its coal mining heritage. The state has an economy that is largely driven by the extractive industries, such as coal mining and natural gas production. However, there are also other important sectors that contribute to West Virginia’s economic growth and stability.

The primary industry in West Virginia is energy production, particularly coal mining. Coal has been an important part of the state’s economy since its formation in 1863, and it continues to be a major source of employment for many West Virginians today. Coal production accounts for about 17 percent of the state’s total economic output, and over 8 percent of all jobs are related to this industry. In addition to coal production, natural gas production has also become increasingly important in recent years due to advances in fracking technology. Natural gas now accounts for almost one-third of West Virginia’s total energy production and provides jobs for thousands across the state.

In addition to energy production, manufacturing plays an important role in West Virginia’s economy. The state’s manufacturing sector employs over 10 percent of all workers in the state and contributes nearly 10 percent of all economic output each year. Manufacturing industries include motor vehicle parts, chemicals and plastics, food products and beverages, wood products, furniture products, machinery parts and equipment components, among others.

West Virginia also has a strong tourism sector that generates billions each year from visitors who come to enjoy its stunning scenery and outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting or skiing at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Tourism accounts for about 4 percent of all economic output each year in West Virginia and employs over 20 thousand people across the state annually.

Finally, agriculture is another important sector that contributes significantly to West Virginia’s economy each year; it contributes over 4 billion dollars annually from crop sales alone! Livestock farming is also a major contributor to this sector; cattle ranching generates millions each year while poultry farming provides jobs for thousands across the state as well as providing food sources locally throughout West Virginia’s communities.

Overall, West Virginia’s economy is largely driven by extractive industries such as coal mining and natural gas extraction; however these industries are complemented by manufacturing operations which provide additional employment opportunities across multiple sectors within the state’s borders; finally tourism continues to be an important part of West Virginia’s economy with both rural areas offering outdoor activities such as skiing or whitewater rafting while agricultural operations provide additional food sources locally throughout many communities.

Top 3 Counties in West Virginia

According to, main counties in West Virginia include:

1. Kanawha County: Located in the heart of West Virginia, Kanawha County is the largest county in the state. As the state capital, Charleston serves as its county seat. This populous county has a population of over 180,000 people and is known for its rich history and culture. It is also home to several attractions such as the State Capitol Building, Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, and University of Charleston. The area is also home to many outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, camping and more.

2. Monongalia County: Monongalia County is located in northern West Virginia near the Maryland border. It has a population of nearly 100,000 people and is home to Morgantown – a vibrant college town that serves as both the county seat and home to West Virginia University. The county offers plenty of things to do including visiting local wineries or breweries, exploring Coopers Rock State Forest or Tygart Lake State Park for outdoor activities like hiking or camping, or catching a show at one of Morgantown’s many live music venues or theaters.

3. Cabell County: Cabell County sits along West Virginia’s western border with Kentucky and Ohio on the Ohio River in southwestern West Virginia. With a population of over 96,000 people it is one of West Virginia’s most populated counties and it’s largest city – Huntington – serves as its county seat with an estimated population over 485k people in 2019 census estimates making it one of America’s largest small cities by population density per square mile. The area offers much to explore from museums like Heritage Farm Museum & Village to outdoor recreation at Beech Fork Lake State Park or Ritter Park for walking trails and picnic areas alike.

Economy of West Virginia