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Census shows population loss continues in West Virginia

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

The US Census Bureau released their latest annual population statistics for 2023 last week.

The numbers show that West Virginia experienced a population loss of approximately 4,000 people since 2022. While 4,700 people moved to the state, deaths outpaced births by some 8,600, resulting in an overall population loss of more than 4,000.

Of those moving into the state in 2023, 1,100 came to West Virginia from international locations and 3,600 came from other states.

From 2020-23, the total inmigration is 9,700 people. One out of every two comes here from an international location.

While the inmigration numbers represent a positive, the state continues to lose population due to more deaths than births occurring annually. From 2020-23, the state saw 55,000 births and 89,000 deaths.

Governor Jim Justice (R) says he is “not overly concerned” by the state’s population loss, calling it “very, very minimal.” He argued that the state’s business and economic development climate make the state very attractive to people considering a move here.

“Right now because of having a diversity of our economy and the fact that we now have pulled ourselves out of an ungodly economic hole, we have business opportunity now on every street corner almost, there are surpluses beyond belief, and all that being said today my concern is very, very minimal,” says Justice. “I’m tickled 4,700 folks moved in and I want it to be 47,000 and then I want it to be 470,000.”

In the last Census in 2020, West Virginia lost a congressional representative due to population loss, going from three down to two. Current Congressman Alex Mooney (R), who is opposing Governor Justice in the Republican US Senate primary this spring, argued in an op-ed earlier this year that, “A declining population puts more than federal dollars at risk…fewer people means a corresponding decline in state taxpayers, which lowers tax revenue and the quality of public services it funds.”

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