Even with the recent downturn in the national economy, the Morgantown MSA (Monongalia and Preston counties) has continued to grow during the past four quarters, according to the latest edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics .

The Morgantown MSA added 1,177 jobs from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, which is a growth rate of 1.9 percent.

That is much better than the rapid rates of job loss posted by both the state and the nation,said George W. Hammond , associate director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research . During the past four quarters, the state lost jobs at a 1.7 percent rate, while the nation lost jobs at a 3.1 percent rate.

Morgantown has generated strong job gains in construction, leisure and hospitality, health care, and government during the past four quarters. However, the local economy has experienced job losses in most other sectors. As a result, job growth in Morgantown, while still outpacing the state and nation, has slowed dramatically. Indeed, from the first quarter of 2007 to the same quarter of 2008, Morgantown added 1,600 jobs, which translated into a growth rate of 2.6 percent.

How does Morgantowns cost of living compare?

For the first quarter of 2009, Morgantowns cost of living was average according to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which compared prices of 60 specific items in 309 urban areas located within the United States. However, in comparison to urban areas located within West Virginia or with similar characteristics, Morgantowns cost of living was high.

This data, a quarterly comparison of the costs of 60 specific items in urban areas throughout the nation, comes from the ACCRA Cost of Living survey, which is compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Researchl. The items studied reflect a typical market basket of goods and services purchases by an upper-income household. These items are categorized into five types: grocery items, healthcare, transportation, housing, and miscellaneous goods and services.

Morgantowns total cost of living index for the first quarter was balanced by high housing and transportation costs and low utility and miscellaneous good and services,said Amy Higginbotham economist at the WVU BBER .

The June 2009 edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor, compiled by the WVU BBER , contains the full analysis of these trends. The Monitor is a simi-annual publication of the BBER . Copies of the publication can be found at www.bber.wvu.edu . Information about the ACCRA Cost of Living Report can be found at www.coli.org .