CLARKSBURG, WV (WBOY)—Recently, the United States Census Bureau released more details on the data collected in 2020. In their first data dump, West Virginia was revealed to be one of a few states who lost population since the last decennial count in 2010. As a result, West Virginia lost a seat in the US House of Representatives. The other states who lost population are Mississippi and Illinois. The newly released data focuses on redistricting data–population counts to be used in the redrawing of congressional and state legislative district boundaries.
The redistricting data included population counts by county. A look at the data from the past two decennial counts shows that the majority of the state is losing population, but Monongalia county and the eastern panhandle gained some population and scattered counties remained about the same.
Census experts participated in a news conference where they explained that the general trend was that counties and cities right outside of large metro areas were the fastest growing areas. The top ten fastest-growing cities were suburbs of nearby larger cities. While the largest cities in the US still gained some population, the gain was not as high as in previous years.
West Virginia is the second least diverse state, according to the Census data. The state scored a 20.2% diversity index. The diversity index, according to the Census, is used to measure the probability that two people chosen at random will be from different race and ethnicity groups. The 20.2% score, however, is higher than the last decennial count in 2010, when West Virginia scored a 13.1%. The first least diverse state was Maine.
State and local officials will now take the data the Census released and begin the redistricting process. A redistricting of the state for the House of Delegates districts, Senate districts, and congressional districts will be placed in a bill that will have to pass in both houses of the legislature, and finally, be signed into law by the governor. A special legislative session could happen as early as October.