MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There will probably be fewer West Virginians in the years ahead.

A new report from West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research predicts the state’s population will begin a sustained decline in 2016 that will continue through 2030, at least.

During that time, researchers said the state could lose nearly 19,500 people — or about one percent of the population — largely because births will fall short of deaths in the Mountain State as the state’s citizens get older.

West Virginia’s population is expected to age at a rate that exceeds that of the nation.

“This is a bit of a bummer,” admitted Dr. John Deskins, director of WVU’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.  “But there are some silver linings in here.  We don’t have to give up hope yet.”

Deskins said new economic developments, including a planned petrochemical complex in Wood County, could reverse the downward trend.

“Our report does not take into account any boost that may come from the cracker and other potential positive shocks that could cause people to migrate into the state,” he said.  “That’s where the optimism comes from.”

A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed population declines in 41 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.  If the downward trend continues, West Virginia could lose one of its three U.S. House seats during the Congressional reapportionment in 2020.

The full population report is available here.

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  • Point Pleasant

    Seems every other house is "For Sale" and the houses in many of the neighborhoods should have been demolished years ago.

    We can only wonder where the people have gone? With our elderly population -- yes many of them have gone to Suncrest Memorial Gardens or cremated.

    Mason County would have to rank among the worst secondary roads in the state. How many times can a road be patched? There is no pleasure driving. No looking forward to driving into town for a Bob Evans breakfast with friends.

  • Terry

    I grew up in Eastern WV at a time when the coal and steel parts of the state were booming. Those parts of the state are now dying and the East is booming. The problem...the state is still run by interests in the south and central areas that have no concept of where and how development comes from. WV, unfortunately, is still seen as a heavy union, anti-business location because of the coal and steel past, even though that may not be true anymore. Three easy fixes. 1. WVU and Marshall need to dust off the old records from Germany and begin developing new uses for coal. 2. Copy the right to work states in getting industry. 3. Push for roads that move traffic (truck) through WV. All out funds need to go to connecting the East to WV such as Baltimore, Washington, Eastern Va. Ports by highway. Corrider H, Route 9 connected to Corrider H. Upgrade 250 from Wheeling to Morgantown so truck traffic (related industries) bypass Pa. Turnpike and Pitts. on the way east. North/South highways as they exist go to and from nowhere, except 81 in Berkeley. Build on success. Fund the MARC to Keyser/Cumberland in order to open up and grow Morgan, Hampshire, and Mineral

  • Buck

    My, my....what a difference Right To Work would make.

  • gnarly dude

    Meanwhile, Earl Ray shoots down high tech tax credits for jobs creators in order to keep things "as is".

  • Silas Lynch

    West Virginia is just following global and national trends-- since West Virginia is easily over 90% white, its population is in decline.

  • Thinker

    Jobs drive everything. For example, the reason why West Virginia has so few Hispanics (illegal or not) is that there are no jobs here for them.

  • Low Rider

    It's all about jobs. The state will not prosper economically or grow in population without "good paying" opportunities. The state cannot survive on retailing, education and service industries. Unless manufacturing and/or the oil/gas/cracker industry grows, WV will stay in a downward spiral.

    Drive 4 hours south to North Carolina to see a real state in motion.

  • Jon F.

    My goodness...I had to leave WV 29 years jobs, no economic development, no future. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. WV deserves better. I cannot understand why WV residents do not demand The state continues to lose its most precious resource...the sons and daughters that move away to Texas, Florida, Tennessee etc.
    My fellow West Virginians...clean house next election. Let some new leadership have a try.

  • visionary

    I'm trying to move out now!!!

  • Tom

    No people.

  • spall

    Not welcoming to new residents.

  • Voter

    No jobs, older population and unlimited abortions.