The Potomac Highlands economy is expected to hit new highs during the next five years, according to a forecast released today (Oct. 26) by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. For the purposes of the forecast, the Potomac Highlands Region includes Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton counties in West Virginia.

The forecast was presented to local business leaders and policymakers at the Potomac Highlands Outlook Conference in Keyser, W.Va. The conference was presented by WVU s Bureau of Business and Economic Research and WVU Potomac State College, in conjunction with the Region 8 Planning and Development Council.

The region is poised to continue adding jobs and residents during the next five years,said George Hammond, research associate professor at the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and co-author of the forecast.In fact, the regions job and population growth has far outpaced comparable state rates since 2000 and the forecast calls for growth to remain solid,Hammond continued.

Most job growth is expected to come in service-providing sectors, including: financial activities; leisure and hospitality; health care; and professional and business services. These gains are further supported by growth in goods-producing sectors such as mining, manufacturing, and construction.

Overall job growth pushes per capita personal income up during the forecast period, even after adjusting for the impact of inflation.That personal income increase implies a rising standard of living for the regions residents,Hammond said.

Further, job gains and income growth translate into strong population gains in the region, with growth expected to average 582 new residents per year.Population growth will be 0.7 percent per year, which far exceeds expected West Virginia growth and is close to the national rate of 0.9 percent,Hammond said.

The detailed forecast publication is available free of charge at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research web site