(04/15/2013)
By Bob Weaver

The only county in West Virginia that has really gained population is Monongalia County, now surpassing 100,000.

Were it not for growth in Mon, Berkley and Jefferson County, the state as a whole would have lost population since 2010.

After 9-11, there was some delusional thinking that urbanites would flee their metropolitan digs and relocate to rural America.

That hasn't happened, nor is there any statistical evidence that it will.

Calhoun's census peaked in 1940 at the end of the agricultural era at 12,455, with Grantsville once having a population of 1,200.

Census researchers are predicting the Calhoun County census will continue to drop for the next 35 years.

The median and capitated income for Calhoun and most rural WV counties is among the lowest in the USA, all the more reason for those remaining to work toward self-sufficiency, being less dependent on the grid, and growing ones food.

Population decline means less resources for local community services.

People in America will continue to cluster around crowded urban and suburban areas to work and live.

Calhoun has plenty of company with projected population decline. Most counties in rural America have a fading population.

CALHOUN POPULATION DECLINE PROJECTIONS

7,124(2015)

7,024(2020)

6,910(2025)

6,780(2030)

6,640(2035)

Rural America now accounts for just 14 percent of the nation's population, the lowest ever.

RURAL CENTERS ARE FADING

The latest 2010 census numbers show an emerging America where rural areas grow ever less relevant.

Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say.

We're already seeing that in many WV counties and towns.

Large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia are facing significant population declines with young adults leaving and the people who stayed getting older, moving past childbearing years.

The minimum wage and low paying jobs that once stabilized rural areas have been globalized.

Rural towns and counties are scrambling to attract new residents, maintain a tax base and stave off heavy funding cuts from financially strapped federal and state governments.

In 1910, the population share of rural America was 72 percent, with rural areas holding a majority of Americans until 1950.

Now, 14% of Americans live in rural areas.

Since 2000, metros grew overall by 11 percent with the biggest gains in suburbs or small or medium-sized cities.

The share of Americans living in suburbs has climbed to an all-time high of 51 percent.

CONSOLIDATION WILL ELIMINATE THE SMALL

The Census Bureau will soon begin to define new "combined statistical areas" often referred to by demographers as megapolitan areas or megalopolises based on growth and overlapping commuter traffic.

Demographers believe that rural areas will be swallowed up by consolidation, becoming part of metropolitan areas.

Local government will be gone and low real-estate taxes will be a thing of the past, the bigger will tax the smaller.

While all this seems depressing, mountain people have an opportunity to develop a life-style of sustainability, returning to the basic tenants practiced by their ancestors.

Meanwhile, an advantage is low real estate taxes.

REGIONAL CENSUS PROJECTIONS/US CENSUS

CALHOUN

Population 2011 Estimate: 7,639

Population 2012 Estimate: 7,607

ROANE

Population 2011 Estimate: 14,830

Population 2012 Estimate: 14,684

GILMER

Population 2011 Estimate: 8,739

Population 2012 Estimate: 8,732

WIRT

Population 2011 Estimate: 5,806

Population 2012 Estimate: 5, 847

CLAY

Population 2011 Estimate: 9,390

Population 2012 Estimate: 9, 297

BRAXTON

Population 2011 Estimate: 14,560

Population 2012 Estimate: 14,468

RITCHIE

Population 2011 Estimate: 10,323

Population 2012 Estimate: 10,236


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