CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia has the 12th-least expensive workers' compensation rates in the nation, according to a just-released study.
Alaska has the most expensive rates, based on rates that were in effect on Jan. 1. North Dakota has the least expensive rates.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services conducts the biennial study, which ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
West Virginia was the 17th-least expensive state in the 2010 study.
In the latest study, released on Wednesday, Virginia had the fourth-least expensive rates in the nation. It was the only state bordering West Virginia that ranked better than the Mountain State. The others: Maryland, 18th; Ohio, 24th; Kentucky, 30th; and Pennsylvania, 40th.
Oregon researchers also compared each state's rates to the national median, or midpoint, rate of $1.88 per $100 of payroll. West Virginia's rate of $1.55 is 18 percent below the median.
The Oregon study confirms what has been widely reported: West Virginia's workers' comp rates have become more competitive. Overall rates in West Virginia have dropped by more than 60 percent since then-Gov. Joe Manchin and the Legislature transformed workers' compensation insurance from a state monopoly to a private, competitive market starting in 2006.
The rate reductions amount to $208 million in annual savings for the state's employers, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said at the Business Summit in September. There are about 35,000 employers in West Virginia.
Tomblin told summit attendees he is in no mood to entertain changes now. "My mentality is simple," he said. "We fixed it. Leave it alone! Privatization has been a huge success."