Improving education, increasing jobs, boosting the economy, protecting the environment and promoting equality - those were the top five issues cited by young West Virginia residents in a new report released by Generation West Virginia last week. In the winter of 2016, Generation West Virginia, which works to attract and retain young talent in the state, conducted a political engagement study, polling 507 West Virginia residents between the ages of 18-45.\r\nWest Virginia loses an average of 44 people per day, according to U.S. Census data from 1950-2000, which is included in the report. The West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research\u2019s 2014 population trends report estimates that by 2030, nearly one in four West Virginians will be more than 65 years old and West Virginia\u2019s population will have dropped by 20,000.\r\n\u201cAs Nov. 8 approaches, this data outlines the interests and motivations of young West Virginian voters,\u201d said Natalie Roper, executive director of Generation West Virginia, on Monday. \u201cHowever, this data\u2019s importance extends beyond the election as it highlights the issues that drive this generation of West Virginians in choosing not only how to vote but where to live and work.\u201d\r\nThe study found that young people care less about a candidate\u2019s political party affiliation and more about the candidate\u2019s position on the issues when casting their votes. Eighty eight percent of young voters moderately or strongly agree a candidate\u2019s position on an issue influences their vote more than party affiliation. And 48 percent of young voters consider themselves outside the traditional two-party categories of \u201cconservative\u201d and \u201cprogressive.\u201d\r\nWhen asked for the most important qualities they look for in a candidate, young voters in West Virginia said a candidate\u2019s alignment with their ideology and issues was the most important, followed by honesty and integrity.\r\nThe study\u2019s results reveal insight beyond what voters are thinking about as they head to the polls. By asking young West Virginians to list the three most important issues to them this election, the study not only shows respondents\u2019 voting priorities, but it shows that a quality K-12 education, ever rising college costs, lack of job diversity and West Virginia\u2019s overall economy are some of the biggest challenges facing young West Virginians today.\r\n\u201cBy understanding what young West Virginians see as the state\u2019s greatest assets and challenges, we can better align our programmatic and policy priorities to build upon what\u2019s working and fill in the elements that are missing,\u201d said Natalie Roper.\r\nAlso included in the report is a study from the summer of 2015. The summer study found that the top five challenges young West Virginians face were lack of access to quality jobs, lack of diversity of activities and restaurants, lack of affordable and quality rental housing, an aversion to change, and poor infrastructure.\r\nIt\u2019s top five assets, according to the 314 young West Virginians survey in the summer 2015 study, are the state\u2019s prominent outdoor recreation lifestyle, cost of living, the kind and proud people in West Virginia, the beautiful natural scenery, and the potential to make impact as a young person.\r\n\u201cIn order for West Virginia to better attract, retain, and advance young talent, we must also be a state that listens to and truly values the interests and motivations of those we seek to attract and retain,\u201d said Natalie Roper. \u201cIssues that are important to young voters are important for West Virginia\u2019s future.\u201d\r\nTo download the report and for more detailed information, visit generationwv.org\/research.