How does West Virginia differ from other states?
Enter the phrases "West Virginia leads the nation," and "West Virginia is the only state" in online databases or news stories and the results are many. Here are a few:
West Virginia is the only state that resides completely within the Appalachians.
The state ranks 50th among states in terms of foreign-born population. It has the oldest population of any state (median age: 40), and leads the nation in the percentage of population on Medicare (19 percent). West Virginia is virtually tied with Mississippi for the lowest home computer ownership rate in the nation.
West Virginia was the only state in the country where less than half of those registered to vote did so in the November 2012 election.
West Virginia is the only state that cut taxes in 2012; the only state that regulates hospital rates; the only state that mandates breakfast be provided for all public school students. West Virginia leads the nation in returning unclaimed property to individuals. The Mountain State leads the nation in percentage of miles of highway that are state maintained.
West Virginia leads the nation in prescription drug overdose deaths; in the rate of adults age 65 and older who have lost all of their teeth; in the number of adults receiving government assistance for disabilities. West Virginia ranks 49th in terms of smoking, with 28.2 percent of the adult population indicating that they currently smoke daily. The state leads or is near the lead in 10 out of 12 chronic conditions, including obesity (33.8 percent), heart attack and diabetes. West Virginians are more than three times more likely to die in a fire than the general U.S. population.
Business and labor
West Virginia has the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation. The state leads the nation in coal exports, having shipped coal to 136 countries in 2012. West Virginia has some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation, and is the third-leading electricity exporter, providing power to neighboring states and some of the Northeast's largest metropolitan areas. West Virginia joined the ranks of the top 10 largest natural gas producers in the U.S. for the first time in 2012. West Virginia leads the nation in the percentage of family owned and operated farms.
West Virginia has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the country. Nearly 25 percent of personal income comes from government transfer payments like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social benefit programs.
West Virginia leads the nation in home ownership and in the number of homes that are energy inefficient.
West Virginia leads the nation in per-pupil spending but scores 49th in student achievement. The state leads the nation in the number of working-age adults without a college degree.