West Virginia lagging economy drives population out, leading to loss of clout in Congress

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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia is on the verge of losing a representative in Congress following a decrease in population. Some speculated reasons are poverty, job loss and drug addiction — and that’s just for starters.

While West Virginia will be losing one out of their three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, Delegate John Doyle of Jefferson County (D) says take everything you read in the newspaper with a grain of salt.

“It’s been obvious that California was going to lose a seat in Congress. New York and Illinois and Ohio were losing seats — as well as West Virginia,” Doyle said.

West Virginia will be losing one of its Republican seats from its all-GOP delegation in the U.S. House, but Doyle says the state has been declining in population for generations.

“In 1950, West Virginia had six .embers of Congress,” said Doyle. “In 1960 it dropped to five. In 1970 to four. In 1990 it dropped to three and now we’re dropping to two.”

Doyle says West Virginia is the only state that has fewer people now than it did in 1950. According to him, the explanation is obvious.

“We have to move our economy to industries that are growing, and the problem is too many people in the southern half of the state think that solution is to bring back the coal industry and it’s not coming back,” Doyle said.

According to national newspaper columnist David Shribman, over the past decade, more people in West Virginia have moved out than moved in. As he said, “it may be almost heaven, but it’s almost empty.”

Only seven of West Virginia’s 55 counties will see growth in the next census. One is Berkeley, right here in our viewing area — the fastest growing county in the entire state.

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