WV LEADS NATION IN MORE DEATHS THAN BIRTHS - Census Bureau Says Calhoun Will Continue Population Loss, WalMart WV's Biggest Employer, Ohio's Biggest Employer Fast Food


For the first time in US history, more people have died than were born in a state over an entire decade.

That state is West Virginia.

In some rural areas, deaths have exceeded births for several decades, but West Virginia is the only place where that has happened statewide, according to the "Natural Decrease in America: More Coffins Than Cradles."

The study was done by the University of New Hampshire.

"Natural decrease is not something that happens suddenly. It is a very gradual process," said professor Kenneth Johnson.

"Natural decrease, in places like West Virginia, is primarily a function of the outmigration of young people, over several generations. The Great Plains is another area where this is widespread," he said.

During 2010, nearly 25 percent of counties across the United States saw more of their people die than were born.

People are continuing to leave rural areas for urban centers.

According to the 2010 Census, West Virginia's population grew by more than 44,000 residents over the past decade.

That number includes people who were born elsewhere and moved into the state, particularly in the Eastern Panhandle, which had a population boom.

The report says that during the 12 months ending in June 2010, 260,000 fewer babies were born than during the 12 months ending in June 2008, a 6 percent drop in two years.

"In those kinds of areas, you hear that maternity wards are closing and geriatric wards are getting bigger. Younger people have to travel longer distances to hospitals that deliver babies," he said.

"School systems might not get as much support in these areas as they would in counties where there are a significant number of families with school-age children, especially now, with the fight over resources."

A downside, in places like West Virginia, "young adults and families are not going to get as much attention as they might get in other parts of the country."

He said there is a significant decline of volunteer firefighters and paramedics.

"Once a natural decrease occurs, the probability that it will reoccur is highly likely. It is not a one-time thing," Johnson said.

"West Virginia has gone in and out natural decreases -- barely more births than deaths in some years and barely more deaths than births in others."

Johnson expects the levels of natural population decrease to go up in areas already losing their population. It is a trend predicted for Calhoun County during the next 25 years.

"West Virginia lost people as coal mines and manufacturing plants began to close down or did not employ as many people due to mechanization."

WalMart and government are the biggest employers.

A recent Ohio study said that state's biggest employer is fast food.

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