2020 CENSUS SAYS WV HAS LOST 10,000 MORE PEOPLE - State On Track To Lose Congressional Seat

West Virginia has lost another 10,476 residents in the past year, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census shows West Virginia’s 2020 population as 1,784,787. The state’s 2019 population was 1,795,263.

This was against a backdrop of the slowest national population growth in 120 years. The U.S. population grew by 0.35 percent from July 2019 to July 2020.

The statistics use a baseline from the 2010 Census, rather than the 2020 Census. The estimates add births, subtract deaths and account for migration from the 2010 Census.

The 2010 Census showed West Virginia’s population was 1,852,994. West Virginia’s population peaked in 1950 at 2,005,053 and then began a long decline. The state’s population grew in the 1970s — from 1,744,237 to 1,949,644 over the course of the decade — only to start another drop in the 1980s.

West Virginia has long expected to lose one of its congressional seats after the upcoming Census, based on population loss and the growth of other states. The latest figures — although not based on the 2020 Census — project that’s likely the case.

West Virginia is among 10 states projected to lose congressional seats. The others are Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The United States Census Bureau is supposed to deliver apportionment counts to the president by Dec. 31, although it’s possible there could be a delay this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The bureau is to release counts to the states for redistricting next April 1.

The state Legislature is tasked with redrawing electoral districts next year. The lines are subject to veto by the governor.

Right now, West Virginia’s congressional districts are divided by three, roughly north to south. The current delegation is David McKinley of Wheeling in the 1st Congressional District, Alex Mooney of Charles Town in the 2nd Congressional Distict and Carol Miller of Huntington in the 3rd Congressional District. All are Republicans.

Dividing the three districts into two would likely pit two of those against each other for the 2022 election.

An analysis by Politico last month speculated that the upcoming redistricting could divide West Virginia by northern and southern districts, placing McKinley and Mooney in the same district. There are a lot of variables, including possibilities like the incumbents deciding not to run or running for other offices.

West Virginia in the past had more congressional districts. The 6th Congressional District was eliminated following the 1960 Census. The 5th Congressional District was lost in 1970. The 4th Congressional District was eliminated in 1990.