IF demographics trends are destiny, the Mountain State's political leaders had better scramble to get ahead of them. The numbers are breaking bad for West Virginia.
A United Van Lines study showed that New Jersey topped states for outward moves in 2012, mostly because its factory sector contracted. Next worst was blue-state Illinois, followed by West Virginia, Michigan and New York, the magazine said.
"Maine became the second state after West Virginia to experience more deaths than births - both states with aging populations and low birth rates."
Recently released Census estimates showed deaths outnumbering births by nearly 1,600 souls, "a nearly 15 percent increase from the 1,200 gap in 2011." That is expected to continue the population ages rapidly.
As Christiadi, a demographer with the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, noted: "This is the period in which the number of West Virginians turning 65 far outnumbers that of younger people joining the state's population. This trend will likely continue through the end of the 2020s, when all the baby boomers turn 65 years or older."
West Virginia leaders need to decide, in the upcoming legislative session, whether they want to continue on a Rust Belt path or join the New South states that are attracting jobs and population.
One path leads to greater poverty and social pathology. The other leads to prosperity and stable families.
Which is it going to be?