The home of West Virginia University grew the most among West Virginia cities with populations of 5,000 or more between April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Morgantown, which grew by 2.1 percent, is the state’s fourth-largest city, with a population of 30,293. If trends continue over the next few years, it will overtake Parkersburg and become third-largest, according to Christiadi, a demographer in WVU’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, a component of WVU’s College of Business and Economics. (Christiadi uses one name.)

Christiadi said, “stable job growth” and increased student enrollment at WVU are the main contributors to Morgantown’s ascension. Martinsburg and Charles Town, in the state’s eastern panhandle, each grew by 1.5 percent followed by Hurricane, in Putnam County, which grew by 0.8 percent.

“Growth in the cities located near the state border, like Martinsburg and Charles Town, might have been driven, in part, by decent population and job growth in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia,” Christiadi said.

Charleston, with a population of 51,004, is the state’s most populous city, followed by Huntington (49,346) and Parkersburg (31,591). The state’s 10 largest cities in 2011 remained exactly the same as those in 2010, according to the report.

Morgantown’s growth correlates with Census data that showed its home county, Monongalia County, to be the fastest-growing county in the state. According to that report, Monongalia County grew by 1.8 percent in 2011, far outpacing most counties in the state.

The data also shows that Monongalia County’s small towns surrounding Morgantown, such as Star City, Westover and Granville, grew at rates higher than 2 percent, which is an exceptionally higher growth rate than other cities in the state, regardless of size. Granville, which borders Morgantown, grew by 2.7 percent. The biggest population loser? Chapmanville, in Logan County, lost 2.7 percent of its population.

Growth in several cities instead of concentrated growth in one town helps counties keep pace with the demand for public services, Christiadi said.
Overall, the new data showed that 61 percent of all cities and towns in West Virginia either lost population or didn’t grow at all. That figure was slightly better than the 64 percent share from 2000-2010.

-WVU-

06/28/12

CONTACT: Dr. Christiadi, WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research
304 293-1801, christiadi@mail.wvu.edu

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