Monongalia County’s growth spurt isn’t slowing down.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, it’s the fastest-growing county in the state and has been since 2008. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, Monongalia County grew by 1.80 percent in 2011, far outpacing most counties in the state.
“A combination of more stable job growth, the absence of housing market crash, and continued increased enrollment into West Virginia University have kept a decent stream of people flowing into this county,” said Christiadi, a demographer with the West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics who goes by one name. “With job growth expected to get better in the next few years, population growth in Monongalia County should remain strong, if not stronger.”
From 2010 to 2011, the state population grew at a 0.05 percent rate, well below the 0.24 percent annual growth posted in the last decade. During the same period, 32 or nearly 60 percent of the counties in the state lost population. Eight counties grew more than 0.50 percent and 15 counties grew between 0.07 percent and 0.40 percent. Monongalia, Jefferson, and Berkeley counties separated themselves from the rest of the state, growing at the rates well above the other counties, Christiadi said.
Jefferson and Berkeley counties posted population growth rates of 1.08 and 1.04 percent, respectively, the report said. While solid, these growth rates are well below the average annual rate of around 3 percent that both counties experienced between 2000 and 2005, Christiadi said.
“However, as the impact of the recession subsides and the economies surrounding the Washington, D.C., area recover, population growth in Berkeley and Jefferson counties is expected to pick up,” Christiadi said.
In addition to the above three counties, five other counties in the state grew above 0.50 percent, including Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Putnam, Preston and Wirt counties. Of all the 32 counties that lost population, McDowell County suffered the largest loss, 1.52 percent, followed by Tucker, Ritchie, Wyoming, Wetzel, and Hardy counties. Each of those counties lost more than 1.00 percent during the same period.
Kanawha County has not seen a population growth turnaround in 2011, losing another 0.35 percent of its population.
West Virginia’s total population is listed at 1,855,364.
Christiadi said one reason for the state’s population loss was that nearly every four of five counties had negative natural growth—the number of deaths exceeding the number of births. As the state’s population continues to age, the loss from this negative natural growth will likely increase as well, he said.
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CONTACT: Dr. Christiadi