WVU study: recession keeping population in state;
decline predicted after 2030

August 23, 2010

A stagnant national economy is helping to keep West Virginia’s population within its borders, according to a study by a West Virginia University demographer.

The 2010 West Virginia Population Projection, released by WVU’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, a component of the College of Business and Economics, predicts small but steady growth until 2030.

West  Virginia’s population has grown at a rate of 0.2 percent per year since 2006.  While this is hardly a significant growth, says BBER demographer Dr. Christiadi, it’s the state’s fastest population growth in the last 15 years.

 “Out-migration will gradually rise back up as the U.S. economy recovers from the recession, reducing gains from migration coming into the state,” Christiadi said. “More importantly, aging of the state population will soon accelerate as more and more baby boomers retire and, as a result, deaths will soon outgrow and eventually far exceed births.”

As aging continues in both the U.S and the state, both in-migration and out-migration will slow. Eventually, the erosion of incoming citizens will cause the state to start losing population after 2030.

Between 2000 and 2030, the number of people 65 years of age or older will jump by 55.4 percent.  Their share will jump from 15.3 percent in 2000 to 23.0 percent in 2030.

At the same time, the number of people below 25 years of age will drop by 7.7 percent, and their share fell from 31.8 percent to 28.4 percent during the same period.  The share of those between 25 to 44 years old will also shrink from 27.7 percent to 23.9 percent.