Monday, March 20, 2023

Census: Wheeling Population Decline

Wheeling – If and when U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the population level in the city of Wheeling has decreased or even increased somewhat, Mayor Glen Elliot will likely be the first person to achieve the historic feat. Would like to comment on – regardless of whether he is in the office when this happens or not.

But that time is not yet, as the latest census data shows.

Since taking over as the city’s mayor, Elliott has been asked repeatedly – ​​year after year when new US Census data and projections are released – his thoughts about the city’s ongoing population decline. For. Each time, he has offered an optimistic view of the situation, explaining that Wheeling has been experiencing a decline in population since the mid-1930s, and noting the fact that numbers have increased in the city’s population over the years. Indicates the percentage of population loss for has been shrinking steadily for decades.

Elliot has been questioned so often about the loss of Wheeling’s population during his tenure that when he celebrated the birth of his son earlier this year, he jokingly said that he and his wife were the city’s most were facing a decline in the population. ,

The US Census Bureau last week released new population estimates for cities and towns, showing that the city of Wheeling is losing residents.

According to new estimates of the resident population for incorporated locations in the Mountain State, the estimated population of Wheeling declined from 27,009 to approximately 26,568 as of April 1, 2020, through July 1, 2021.

When asked about the new figures, the mayor said on Saturday that he had similar views on the situation.

Elliott said, “Although the wheeling population has been declining since the 1930s, the rate of that decline has decreased significantly since the 1990s, so I expect our population to bottom out sometime in this decade.” and will actually increase by 2030.” “But in the meantime, we continue to pay the price for past migration of young people who have left Wheeling with a statistically large population that is bound to have higher rates of death than birth.”

The “brain drain” effect of the community losing educated and skilled workers in other areas has been cited as a problem in the Ohio Valley for decades – leading to mass exodus of young people.

“For us in city government, the challenge remains the same. We have to ensure that Wheeling is a community that offers economic opportunities, affordable living options and a high quality of life for today’s workforce, which is more mobile and selective than ever before,” Elliott said.

Aside from Morgantown – which showed a very modest projected increase of about 60 people in recent census figures, most towns of similar size to Wheeling also lost a few hundred people in the past year.

West Virginia was the state that led the nation in percentage of population loss in the last survey decade when US Census data from 2020 came out. According to the data, only Puerto Rico saw a massive drop of 11.8%, with West Virginia down 3.2%. Only Illinois and Mississippi also showed losses – marginally down 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. All other states showed growth from 2010 to 2020, with Idaho, Utah, Texas, North Dakota and Nevada claiming growth rates of 15% or more.

The battle continues to keep West Virginia residents in the state and attract new ones. Local officials have noted that the remote workforce trend – especially in the post-pandemic world – has opened new doors for more rural communities. It has been observed that more youth are actually living locally and returning home from college and pursuing careers. In Wheeling, the trend of private companies investing millions of dollars in the construction of new residential units in the downtown area and beyond is also giving local officials hope that the city’s population decline will soon see the end of a long chapter in Wheeling’s history. .

“We have to continue to paint a picture of Wheeling that contrasts with the stubborn West Virginia stereotypes that have defined our state and territory for many years,” Elliott said. “One who is also open for business while being friendly and welcoming to all.”

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