The city that West Virginia University calls home has performed well by many economic measures compared to other similar college cities across the United States, according to a recent study.

The study was completed by the WVU Bureau of Business & Economic Research, a unit within the College of Business and Economics, and was commissioned by the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce. John Deskins, co-author of the study and BBER director, released findings of the study on Oct. 30 at the Morgantown Economic Opportunities Summit.

University cities compared to Morgantown in the study included Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University; Charlottesville, Virginia, home to the University of Virginia; Manhattan, Kansas, home to Kansas State University; State College, Pennsylvania, home to Penn State University; and Stillwater, Oklahoma, home to Oklahoma State University.

“Morgantown has seen significant economic growth and has a lot of positive attributes,” Deskins said. “The home city to WVU has a lot to be proud of and, as we expected, it has challenges, too.”

The report is an economic profile of Morgantown as it compares the five other cities across the nation. The other universities are similar in size and house major public research universities – similar to West Virginia University. A variety of indicators were examined, such as macroeconomic outcomes, demographics, business and living costs, and public infrastructure.

Encouraging components of the study included findings that employment growth in the Morgantown Metropolitan Statistical Area was the fastest in the group throughout recent years. The 2013 unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was lower than four of the five comparison cities. Additionally, Morgantown’s gross metropolitan product per capita has grown by nearly 80 percent in the past decade, far surpassing any of the comparison cities.

However, challenges include Morgantown having the lowest level of educational attainment in the group, as well as being the second-highest in overall cost of living.

“We believe this study can be extremely beneficial to policymakers and business leaders, so that they can design policies that are most effective in fostering economic growth and prosperity,” Deskins said. “In order to do that, they must have a firm grasp of the nature of the city’s economy. These results will provide them with a richer grasp of where the city’s economy stands when judged against the kind of cities that we will likely compete with in attracting businesses and jobs.”

The full report is available from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research for free download in PDF format at For further information about the WVU College of Business & Economics, visit



CONTACT: John Deskins; WVU College of Business and Economics

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.