MORGANTOWN , W.Va.New population estimates released on July 1 by the U.S. Census Bureau show that roughly 60 percent of cities in West Virginia lost population in 2008.

Yet at the same time, some cities continued to grow strongly as well, according to demographic expert U. Christiadi at West Virginia Universitys College of Business and Economics.

While there were more cities losing than gaining population, West Virginias population as a whole managed to grow modestly at 0.3 percent rate in 2008,he said.

Cities showing strong economic growth continue to display positive population growth in 2008. Among large cities in the state, Martinsburg led the other cities by growing strongly at 4.0 percent. Bridgeport, Hurricane City, and Morgantown followed with 1.7, 1.5, and 1.1 percent growth, respectively, the census data show.

Moundsville led the other cities losing 1.24 percent of its population in the same year. Two other large cities in the Northern Panhandle region including Wheeling and Weirton also saw population losses of 0.6 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Large cities in the other parts of the state also suffered population loss, including Charleston, South Charleston, Parkersburg, Elkins, and New Martinsville, which have seen population decline for several years.

Economic growth plays an important role in determining the citiespopulation growth.Economic growth is a primary factor that attracts migrants and the effect of migration on population growth can be long lasting,Dr. Christiadi said.Negative net migration directly reduces population growth, but sustained negative net migration will likely reduce the regions fertility rate as well, which further slows population growth. The reverse is also true.