West Virginia lost higher percentage of its residents than any other U.S. state

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT
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NORTH-CENTRAL, W.Va (WDTV) - West Virginia’s population declined 3.2% over the past decade according to U.S. Census data released Thursday.

The population fell by about 60,000 people and there was a loss in 47 out of the state’s 55 counties.

“That’s a problem...that’s a real problem,” said Governor Jim Justice.

But Monongalia County saw an increase which is welcome news to County Commissioner Tom Bloom.

“We’re very excited about the census report because we continually diversify and transfer a lot of what we were from 10 years ago to what we are becoming now,” said Bloom.

Population losses were especially hard in counties where coal mines closed.

“Even though unfortunately we had Mylan closing up and the Blacksville number 2 mine...we saw this coming, and we reach out to try multiple chemical businesses,” said Bloom.

With the population decline, West Virginia is one of seven states to lose a congressional seat after the 2020 census, something the legislature is currently working address with redistricting.

The governor discussed the latest census data during today’s press briefing.

He says he’ll find ways to grow the population, but believe we already missed a chance to do so.

“The biggest miss that we could possibly have ever had in 2021, and it’ll go down in history as this: we were posed to be able to get rid of the state income tax. That could’ve changed this situation,” said the governor.

Justice says that if the opportunity ever presented itself, he will revisit the idea of eliminating the state income tax.

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