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Population Declining, Aging in Southwest Virginia

While Washington D.C. and its surrounding counties is in the midst of a population, development, and infrastructure investment boom, the region farther south and west in the state of Virginia is bleeding population.
January 28, 2015, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Six Southwest Virginia counties and the city of Bristol, Virginia, saw populations decrease a combined 2,800 residents since the 2010 U.S. Census, while four counties and the city of Norton recorded modest gains totaling less than 500," reports David McGee. The demographic figures come from a report the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. "Wise County recorded the state’s greatest decline, shrinking by more than 1,200 people. Its population fell 3 percent from 41,452 to 40,197, according to the report."

McGee credits the falling population in Southwest Virginia to the loss of coal mining jobs in the area and notes that most of the state's modest growth occurred in the state's most densely populated areas.

In a separate article, Carmen Forman reports on the demographic trends a little farther north and east, in Roanoke, Virginia. There members of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors recently expressed concern with a report finding "that almost half of the people in the Roanoke region are 55 or older and are ready for or are nearing retirement age."

"Behind Asheville, North Carolina, Roanoke ranked second highest in a group of its peers for having the most residents at least 55 years old," according to information credited to John Hull, the market intelligence director for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. For the record, Roanoke's peers, according to the study, include localities such as Lynchburg, Virginia; Asheville and Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Spartanburg, South Carolina."

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Published on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in Bristol Herald Courier
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