U.S. Census figures show population declines in West Virginia’s southern coal-producing counties led to an overall drop in the state’s population last year.
The figures released Thursday show 47 of the state’s 55 counties lost population from 2015 to 2016, including 20 counties that lost more than 200 residents.
Nine of the 10 counties that lost the most population were in southern West Virginia, which has seen a downturn in the coal industry in recent years. Kanawha (kuh-NAW) County lost 1,966 residents, the most in the state.
Three Eastern Panhandle counties saw population gains, led by Berkeley County with a boost of 1,890 residents.
Monongalia County, home of West Virginia University, gained 631 residents.
Overall, West Virginia’s population fell by 9,951 to 1.83 million. The only state to lose more residents was Illinois.