6 states with best GDP growth since 2007

West Virginia
West Virginia © spirit of America/
  • 2007 GDP: $56.9 billion
  • 2011 GDP: $66.1 billion
  • Growth: 16.26 percent

West Virginia's economy runs on coal.

For every dollar of GDP growth from 2007 to 2011, 24 cents came from the state's mining industry.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the Mountain State in 2011 had 273 mines (second only to Kentucky's 400) and produced more than 135 million short tons of coal (second only to Wyoming, which had more than 439 million).

While coal prices rose from $16.78 per short ton in 2000 to $36.91 in 2011, state tax collections from the coal industry rose from less than $200 million to nearly $500 million in that time, according to West Virginia revenue statistics.

U.S. coal demand has slowed down in recent years as power plants switch to natural gas. Coal companies are trying to make up for the decline by exporting to China, Europe and other countries. Meanwhile, the state's natural gas production was at an all-time high of 394.1 billion cubic feet in 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Sectors contributing majority of growth:

  • Mining (specifically coal mining)
  • Government (mostly state and local)
  • Real estate, rental and leasing


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