Located in the central eastern sector of the United States of America, West Virginia was admitted into the Union in 1863. It is the 41st largest and the 38th most populous state in the country, but what are the population statistics in the present day?
The last nationwide census in the US was undertaken in 2010, so to gauge any recent numbers, it is necessary to take the findings from that survey and project them forward to the present day. The 2010 survey revealed that there were 1,852,994 people living in West Virginia, which represented a modest rise of just 2.5% on the numbers declared at the 2000 census. That total makes West Virginia the 38th most populous state in the country.
West Virginia's population has grown very slowly since the 1950s, at many times losing people. Estimates taken in July 2015 indicate that this may once again be the case.
The total surface area of West Virginia measures 24,230 square miles (62,755 square kilometers), which means that an average of 77.1 peoples live on every square mile of West Virginia land. That figure converts to 29.8 people for every square kilometer, and it makes West Virginia the 29th most densely populated in the country -- in that respect, it’s a pretty average state.
West Virginia is one of the few US states not to have a city with more than 100,000 residents. In fact, the largest city in the state, Charleston (the state capital) is home to just 49,736 people. The next largest cities are Huntington (48,638) and Parkersburg (30.991).
The majority of West Virginia's counties are designated as rural, with a small majority of the state's population living in a rural area. In 2010, the state had a 51% rural population, compared to 49% urban.
The most populated counties in West Virginia are Kanawha and Berkeley, with respective populations of 183,293 and 114,920.
The median age across the population of West Virginia is approximately 41.9 years of age. In terms of the ratio of females to males within the population, 50.6% are females and 49.4% are males.
In terms of preferred religions among the population of West Virginia, 78% are affiliated with a Christian based faith, 3% are affiliated with non-Christian based faiths, and 18% are not affiliated with any particular faith.
West Virginia was admitted as a State on June 20, 1863, comprising 48 counties formerly part of Virginia; two additional counties, Berkeley and Jefferson, were added in 1866, bringing the State to essentially its present boundaries. Census coverage included all parts of the present State from 1790 on.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of West Virginia was:
In 1790, the population of West Virginia stood at 55,873, a healthy figure for the time. From that point on, West Virginia followed a pattern seen in many other states -- sizable population increases on a decade by decade basis.
Ten years later at the beginning of the 19th century, numbers had increased by over 40% to 78,592. This pattern was to continue throughout the 1800s to the point where the West Virginia population had climbed to 958,800 by 1900. A decade later, the census of 1910 confirmed that numbers had breached one million for the very first time in the state’s history.
Growth continued through the 20th century -- although at a much slower pace. However, there have been a couple of dips in population -- the national censuses of both 1960 and 1990 revealed declines in population from those recorded ten years earlier. There is no clear indication as to why this was the case, but over the years, there has been said to have been a ‘brain drain’ of sorts away from this largely rural state as its more educated and qualified citizens seek opportunities elsewhere. As noted above, there are few cities in the state, and as a result, there are relatively few opportunities for ambitious young West Virginians to build careers.
West Virginia has had a few years straight of very tepid population growth. This is because the number of deaths are outnumber births in the state, and there have been just modest gains in the number of people migrating to the area. West Virginia's population is also aging faster than the US, which doesn't bode well.
While West Virginia currently has one of the oldest populations of any state in the country, it's expected its birth rate will grow higher than the country as a whole in 2030. It's likely that the state will continue to age faster than the rest of the country, but at this point, it's hard to say.
Current projections predict West Virginia's college-age and young working-age populations will continue to decline through the next few decades, while the older working-age population will see the largest drop. Over the next twenty years, the following counties are predicted to grow between 21% and 63% each: Berkeley, Jefferson, Monongalia and Morgan. Kanawha County, home to the state capital, is expected to lose population through 2030 but will stay resilient and remain around 185,700 through 2030.
By 2030, it's predicted West Virginia's population will have grown very slightly to around 1.9 million.
As one of just ten states with a non-Hispanic white population exceeding 90%, West Virginia is one of the least diverse states in the nation. West Virginia is ranked 50th out of 50 states when it comes to its percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents. The state also has a low percentage of African American inhabitants, ranking 37th out of 50 in the nation.
Only 1.1% of West Virginians were foreign-born, which is one of the lowest percentages in the country. The state also has the lowest percentage of residents that speak a language other than English in the home.
In terms of its Asian American population, the percentage of Asians in relation to West Virginia's total population is the lowest in the country. As far as numbers, the Asian population in the state is ranked 44th out of 50.
When comparing data from the 2010 Census to estimates taken by the US Census Bureau in 2015, the information shows that the majority of counties located within the state of West Virginia reflected decreasing populations. However, during this 5-year period, there were a handful of counties that exhibited population growth. The highest growth rate was observed in Monongalia County, at 7.7%. This was followed by 6.93% growth in Berkeley County and 5.33% growth in Jefferson County. Other counties that reflected population growth include Lewis, Marion, Taylor, and Putnam.
As mentioned, the majority of counties saw decreases in population between 2010 and 2015. The highest loss was tracked in McDowell County at 10.15%. Other high losses in the state include Wyoming County's 6.61% loss, Pendleton County's 5.92% decrease, and Logan County's 5.5% population drop.
Black or African American
Two or more races
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among asian people with a rate of 77.03%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 51.49%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
97.53% of West Virginia residents speak only English, while 2.47% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 1% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in West Virginia is Islander, with 43.55% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in West Virginia is Asian, with 17.31% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 2.91%. Among those working part-time, it was 20.13%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 24.32%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 45-54.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in West Virginia
99.25% of West Virginia residents were born in the United States, with 69.64% having been born in West Virginia. 0.76% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Asia.