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Most WV counties continue to lose population, Census Bureau says

By Jim Ross, The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Only six counties in West Virginia have had a net increase in population since 2020, according to 2023 population estimates released by the Census Bureau on Thursday.

Berkeley County continued its state-leading growth, adding 10,365 people since the 2020 census for a growth rate of 8.5%. Kanawha County had the largest net loss, followed by Cabell County.

McDowell County, which had 98,887 people in 1950, dropped to 19,155 people in 2020 and lost another 1,676 residents in the three years since for a total loss of 82% in the past 73 years.

Every county in the Tri-State area has seen its population decrease in the past three years. Only one county in southern West Virginia had an increase in its estimated population in that time. The Census Bureau estimates that Monroe County has gained four people since 2020.

The four counties other than Berkeley and Monroe to show population increases were Jefferson, which gained 2,082 people, or about 3.6%; Monongalia, which gained 1,897, or 1.8%; Morgan, which increased by 583 people, or 3.4%; and Hampshire, which increased by 555 people, or 3.4%.

Kanawha County suffered a net loss of about 5,944 people (180,749 to 174,805), or 3.3%. If trends continue, Berkeley County, which now has 132,440 residents, could eventually overtake Kanawha County as the state’s most populous.

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