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West Virginia had the largest population drop in the US from 2010 to 2020, the census shows

  • West Virginia lost a higher percentage of its population than any other US state, per the census.
  • The lack of economic opportunity and low pay are two factors in the state’s population decline.
  • The poverty rate in West Virginia is 16%, higher than the national average.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

From 2010 to 2020, West Virginia lost a higher percentage of its population than any other US state, according to new data from the US Census Bureau.

In 2010, the population of the Mountain State stood at 1.85 million, but by 2020, that number had declined to 1.79 million people.

The population loss of 3.2%, or roughly 59,000 people, made the state one of only seven others across the country that are set to lose a congressional district following the 2020 Census.

According to the Associated Press, some of the main reasons cited for West Virginia’s population loss are a lack of economic opportunity, low pay, the state’s political climate, and poor cell phone and internet service.

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The poverty rate in West Virginia is 16%, which is higher than the national average.

In 2019, the national poverty rate was 10.5%, according to the Census Bureau.

The Census data revealed that from 2015 to 2019, only 76% of the state’s households had broadband internet subscriptions.

In an attempt to stem further population losses, West Virginia officials are targeting remote workers who move to the state with $12,000 incentives, along with complimentary passes for recreational destinations including whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

The state hopes to capitalize on the appeal of its ruggedness and open spaces in reversing its population losses.

“We want to give folks the opportunity to escape big cities,” state tourism cabinet secretary Chelsea Ruby told the Associated Press last month. “In West Virginia, there are no crowded places, long commutes or traffic jams. There’s just plenty of places to put down roots and explore the great outdoors.”

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