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Dave Peyton: W.Va.’s economy not what Trump claims

September 27, 2018

The president has announced he is coming to West Virginia for the umpteenth time Saturday.

This time it’s Wheeling, and it has been announced he will be discussing the overwhelming success he has had in the area of economics.

To hear him tell it, he has set America on fire with his economic initiatives and will no doubt conclude that he has single-handedly turned West Virginia’s pitiful economic status around.

There are other voices that dispute what Trump will say about West Virginia.

Ted Abernathy, managing partner for Economic Leadership LLC, says that despite some improvements in recent years, West Virginia remains 50th in the nation in overall business climate rankings, and faces obstacles not of its own making.

One factor, according to Abernathy is that since 2010, job growth and population growth have been concentrated in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more population.

“One of the things impacting West Virginia in a big way is that nationally, there’s been an urban advantage,” he told members of the West Virginia Joint Commission on Economic Development.

Abernathy noted that West Virginia has experienced a 27 percent decline in workers between the ages of 25 and 44, with only a handful of north central and Eastern Panhandle counties avoiding population loss.

Abernathy said West Virginia has seen some positives lately, including a competitive corporate net tax rate, and improvements in high school graduation rates, gross domestic product growth and increased exports.

He also praised growth in two categories of manufacturing: pharmaceuticals and motor vehicle production.

On the negative side, Abernathy said that there was a decline in manufacturing employment, to 59 percent of 1998 employment levels, as well as dropping manufacturing output, down to 84 percent of 1998 levels.

Also troubling, he said, is that West Virginia’s workforce participation rate remains the lowest in the nation.

“Moving your participation rate up needs to be a priority,” he said.

Now what is this about the amazing economic turnaround since Trump took office?

Well, I’m not an economist. I have never even played one on TV. But history shows that (1) the economy is not inextricably tied directly to any president in office and (2) it’s relatively easy to boost the economy with simple economic moves.

I refer you to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and how he turned the economic depression in the U.S. to a booming economy simply by declaring war on Japan and Germany.

During and coming out of World War II in 1945, we were a different country. There were jobs galore. Returning soldiers were finding jobs and getting degrees in record numbers.

Meanwhile, Adolph Hitler turned German economics around. Germany came from one of the most economically depressed countries in the word to what appeared to be one of the richest.

Hitler gave in to the German businesses and gave them whatever they needed to succeed, including playing trade war games with other countries and removing any and all rules that kept private businesses in check for any reason whatsoever.

Sound familiar?

The problem is that while we are progressing nicely in the field of economics, we are drowning in a sea of bully-ism, of which Trump is a symptom.

And believe me when I say this bully-ism will drag this country down faster than any economic recession.

Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address is davepeyton@comcast.net.

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