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State’s economic growth rate in top 10

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's economy grew at one of the fastest rates in the country in 2012, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The Mountain State tied Indiana and Tennessee with the eighth-fastest rate of growth — a 3.3 percent increase in state real gross domestic product.

(Economics lesson: GDP measures final market value of all the goods and services produced somewhere during a given time period. Saying "real" means it also accounts for inflation.)

West Virginia's growth rate exceeded the national reading of 2.5 percent for the year.

Believe it or not, the state's mining sector was the best performer last year, growing at a 2.44 percent clip, while the utilities sector — declining by 0.2 percent — was the biggest drag on the economy.

North Dakota, with its oil-rich Bakken shale region, logged the fasted rate of growth of any state at 13.4 percent while Connecticut brought up the rear, with its economy actually contracting by 0.1 percent last year.

For the second year in a row, the Southwest region — including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma — logged the best regional rate of growth at 4.1 percent. New England was the worst, growing at just 1.2 percent.

While West Virginia's top 10 performance is nice, don't break out the party balloons just yet.

The figures released last week are what the Bureau of Economic Analysis calls "advance statistics," or those "based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency."

Last June, the bureau reported that West Virginia had the third-fastest rate of growth in the country, growing at 4.5 percent.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office seized on the news, shooting out a press release with Tomblin saying, "West Virginia's strong growth in gross domestic product indicates our state is on the right economic path."

Cue Lee Corso: "Not so fast, my friend!"

As part of last week's data, the bureau released its new "revised" estimates for 2011 state GDP growth. And while West Virginia had the third-highest rate of growth the first time around, it unfortunately had the second-largest downward revision of any state.

The bureau shaved 2.6 percentage points off the state's 2011 growth rate, taking that 4.5 percent growth rate down to a nothing-to-write-home-about 1.9 percent rate.

The revision took West Virginia all the way from third place to 22nd. I doubt the Governor's Office will "revise" their press release to tout that one . . .

***

Finally, just a reminder that this Sunday is Father's Day, so be sure to remember to do something nice for the old man.

As a gift for my dad, I want to publicly say I've come to agree with something the late NBC News great Tim Russert once said: "The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get."

(And don't worry, Mom — "smarter" doesn't necessarily mean "smartest.")


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