West Virginia’s claim to fame is mining, except for oil and gas. This particular industry is quite small compared to what we have seen before: West Virginia’s mining operations gross around $5 billion every year and only employs 17,000 individuals. While this may not seem like much, this single industry accounts for almost 8% of all GDP output. This means that 8% of the money the State makes in a year comes from mining alone.
Being the world’s fourth-largest energy-producing State, it is no wonder that mining produces so much wealth. One of the most significant natural resources that West Virginia extracts from the Earth is coal. You will not find a more massive coal producer east of the Mississippi River. It is not all good news for West Virginia’s economy; energy prices have fallen over the past few years, which has negatively impacted the growth and wealth of this industry.
In 2011, mining (except for oil and gas) produced a GDP of $8 billion; this is almost a 40% decrease in just four years. Coal production took a massive hit from 2008 to 2016, shifting from 166 million tons produced to a mere 85 million tons. Due to this, the State saw mine closures from border to border.