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WVU expert believes state’s out-migration has hit bottom

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WVU expert believes state’s out-migration has hit bottom
By Jeff Jenkins, WV Metronews

The director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research believes the significant out-migration of West Virginia residents has bottomed out.

During an appearance Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline,” John Deskins predicted the population decline is coming to an end.

“The numbers indicate the severe recession that we suffered 2015 through early 2016 has ended. We think the economy is stable. We think coal is stable. We think (natural) gas is going to improve,” Deskins said.

New population projections out this week from the U.S. Census Bureau show West Virginia has lost 10,000 residents in the last year and 23,000 since 2010. Most of that is due to the loss of coal jobs, Deskins said.

“It’s in response to the 17,000 jobs we lost over roughly the same period,” he said.

A stabilizing economy will cut down on the out-migration but Deskins still expects deaths to outnumber births in West Virginia.

The numbers from the Census Bureau show West Virginia and Illinois losing the most residents during the one-year period.