Two of West Virginia’s largest cities gained population during the first half of the decade, according to data issued by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday (June 20) and analyzed by the economists at WVU ’s College of Business and Economics.

�€? Morgantown and Martinsburg were the only West Virginia cities with more than 10,000 residents to gain population from 2000 to 2005,�€? commented Randy Childs, an economist with the college’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Morgantown added 1,634 residents, while Martinsburg added 1,049 residents. Huntington and Charleston continued to lose residents with population dropping by 2,193 and 2,077 respectively from 2000 to 2005 (Table 1).

Morgantown and Martinsburg also added the most new residents (Table 2). Charles Town, Hurricane and Ranson rounded out the top five adding 702, 602, and 477 new residents, respectively.

The Eastern Panhandle, North Central Region and Putnam County were the areas with the most cities gaining population (Figure 1).

The state’s other metropolitan areas did not fair as well, with cities of Huntington, Charleston, Wheeling, Parkersburg and Weirton having the largest population losses,�€? Childs said. �€?These five cities alone lost 7,831 residents during the first half of the decade.�€?

West Virginia cities lost 11,184 residents in total from 2000 to 2005. Of the 234 incorporated places in the state, 170 lost 17,486 residents, while 64 gained 6,302 residents. The unincorporated portions of the state gained 20,598 residents with 31 counties having unincorporated areas adding 33,136 residents and 24 counties having unincorporated areas losing 12,538 residents.

Overall the state added 9,414 residents during the first half of the decade.

Sylvester, located in Boone County , was the fastest growing city on a percentage basis from 2000 to 2005. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Sylvester doubled its population during the first five years of the decade. Job growth in the natural resources and mining sector may be the cause of this strong population growth. Sylvester had 195 residents in 2000 and is now estimated to have 475 residents.