Many people are still looking for work, or at least better work, Burdette said.
"There are a lot of people working well below where they think they should be or where they could be because of their skill level. That creates unease and frustration," he said.
Despite every state remaining negative in its outlook for the U.S. economy, 48 states (with the exception of Wyoming and Vermont) saw gains in economic confidence in 2012, according to the study.
Even West Virginia saw a seven-point gain, an increase from 2011's "negative 49" average.
Some states, such as Delaware, Maine, and Hawaii, saw 20-point gains in confidence.
"The wide range in improvements ... suggests that perceptions of national conditions can be influenced by local or regional economic conditions as well as possibly biased by political sensibilities," according to the study.
Nationally, the Gallup Economic Confidence Index averaged "negative 21," up 16 points from "negative 37" a year earlier.
Burdette said much of the nation outside of West Virginia is seeing economic indicators, such as the housing market, "move in a generally more positive fashion."
Stability in the housing market, an increase in home prices, and improvements in home construction are helping, he said. Americans buying at a time when mortgage rates are low are also economic indicators that the economy is improving.
But that isn't the case here, he said.
"We haven't seen the hyperinflation or deflation in the home market. Our home values have increased, but very marginally in a fairly regular consistent basis that people don't actually see it until they sell their property," Burdette said. "Consequently, being able to see that in West Virginia is not as obvious. The only place we saw great changes was in the Eastern Panhandle."
To view the Gallup Economic Confidence Index, visit http://www.gallup.com/poll/160232/states-gains-economic-confidence-2012.aspx.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.