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WVU study: Most of W.Va. will lose population through 2030

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A long term projection study conducted by the WVU Bureau of Economic Research indicated that the state of West Virginia is on pace to losing nearly 19,500 residents between 2010 and 2030. The study was conducted by authors affiliated WVU’s BBER, which operates the University’s College of Business and Economics. This will account for nearly one percent of the state’s population.

The majority of the population loss is driven by a ‘natural population decline,’ –where births in the state of West Virginia fall short to contributing deaths and an aging population. The 18-page report also indicates that the state will lose one seat in the US House of Representatives in the upcoming reapportionment in 2020, leaving West Virginia with two seats, down from three currently and down from six before 1950.

The state is expected to continue to see a shift in population towards its north and central north-east regions, which include Berkeley, Jefferson and Monongalia counties; each of which is expected to add more than 10,000 residents between 2010 and 2030. The other forty-four counties are expected to lose populations between 2010 and 2030 at varying rates.

The change is expected to alter types of public goods and services demanded, which include K-12 education, the composition of West Virginia’s workforce and business location decisions. Jefferson and Berkley counties actually built two new class AAA high schools (WV’s largest high school classification) in the region from its population increase, but those counties also shrank significantly beginning in 2007 when the regions housing market began to falter and the greater Washington DC job market began to weaken.

One striking shift in the population leans towards those below the age of 45 years old, which will decline to 52.6 percent, well below the national average 57.1 percent.

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