The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

September 12, 2007

State earns ‘D’ in prosperity study

CHARLESTON — A lack of entrepreneurship and education have earned West Virginia low marks in a new report on prosperity in the United States.

West Virginia got a “D” in the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s 2007-08 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard. Opportunities to build wealth and attain financial security are relatively limited in West Virginia, the Washington, D.C.-based organization said.

“Family financial security rests upon the ability to invest for the future and having safety nets in place in the event of job loss or emergencies,” President Andrea Levere said.

Chief among the state’s problems are a low number of households with bank accounts and low levels of small business ownership, according to the report. The state also received low marks for reading and math skills at the eighth-grade level and ranked 51st in college education rates.

“The state has the second lowest rate of households with interest-bearing bank accounts and seventh lowest rate of households with non-interest bearing bank accounts,” the CFED said. “The state has the second lowest rate of small business ownership and is 47th in microenterprise ownership. Women entrepreneurs in West Virginia are scarce (50th in women’s business ownership).”

The organization also noted the state ranks 41st in employer-sponsored health insurance, though West Virginia has the seventh-lowest rate of uninsured low-income kids.

The report does credit West Virginia for homeownership, housing affordability and low levels of household debt.

“The benefits of homeownership are also widely shared with strong ranks in homeownership by income (4th), race (10th), and gender (13th),” the report said. “West Virginians hold some of the lowest levels of debt in the nation, ranking first in median mortgage debt and third in credit card debt.”

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