West Virginia achieved a somewhat dubious distinction last summer of being the state with the biggest loss in population during the annual tabulation. According to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, this state’s population dipped from an estimate of 1,856,680 on July 1, 2012 to 1,854,34 on July 1, 2013.
The only other state in the nation with a decline in population was Maine and its estimated decrease was less than 200 residents. North Dakota had the biggest jump in population during that period — expanding at a rate nearly twice the rate of the next-fastest-growing state according to the census estimates. A boom in that state’s oil and gas industry is credited with being the major factor there.
As a consequence of this estimated decrease of 2,376 residents, West Virginia may well lose one of its three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 if this current downward spiral in population continues.
Real Clear Politics, a national political website, predicted last week that West Virginia would lose one of its three seats in the U. S. House of Representatives in 2020 when the next 10-year numbers in the U. S. Census are compiled.
A drop to only two seats in the lower house of Congress would be an all-time low for West Virginia. This state once had six seats in the House of Representatives and has never had less than three U. S. House members in its 150-year history. But the number of members of the House of Representatives began to drop more than half a century ago. One seat was lost following the 1960 census, another after the 1970 census and a third in the wake of the 1990 census.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced last week that more than 355,000 registered voters in West Virginia will be receiving notices from the state’s 55 county clerks, asking them to update their voter registration information. These notices are going out to voters who may have changed their addresses or who haven’t cast ballots for the last two federal election cycles.
Voters who don’t fill out and return the notifications to their county clerks will be placed on a list of inactive voters. But they will still be registered voters and can vote in the upcoming primary and general elections in 2014. Federal law requires that the registration of a voter who remains inactive for two federal election cycles must be cancelled.
The nation’s overall population count on July 1, 2013 was 316,128,839 on July 1, an increase of 2.3 million — a mere 0.7 percent over the previous year. Southern states accounted for half of the national population growth even though the West grew at a slightly faster pace between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013.
California, with a population of 38,332,521, and Texas, with a population of 26.448,193 are the nation’s two most populous states. Florida (19,552,860) currently is fourth, slightly behind New York (19,651,127) but is expected to soon overtake New York because its population is growing at a rate three times that of the Empire State.