Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 28, 2014

Census estimates loss of population in Mercer, McDowell

BLUEFIELD — Mercer and McDowell Counties once again lost population in 2013, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates.

The Census estimate from 2012 to 2013 for McDowell County shows that the population decreased by 457 people. Mercer County lost 411 residents. Monroe County by comparison lost only 13 people between 2012 and 2013.

Bluefield hasn’t seen too much of a decline over the past year, according to assistant city manager Josh Cline.

“We do have an older population but we use 2010 Census records which put Bluefield at a population of 10,447. This number keeps Bluefield as a class 2 municipality. This is just how the state classifies cities,” Cline said.

Mercer County Schools will occasionally see an increase or decrease in students enrolled in the schools, but from 2012 to 2013 there wasn’t a huge difference, Kellan Sarles, information specialist for Mercer County Schools, said.

“In October 2012 Mercer County Schools had 9,660 students enrolled as opposed to October 2013 when 9,505 students were enrolled in schools. It goes up and down some depending on the years,” Sarles said.

Coal remains a primary job employer in McDowell County, Peni Adams, executive director of the McDowell County Economic Development Authority, told the Associated Press Thursday.

“Right now it’s in one of the worst shapes that they’ve seen in a long time,” Adams said in the AP report. “We’re a one-industry county. I don’t want to say all of southern West Virginia is that way. But McDowell County, we’ve relied on coal for so long. The coal industry is in a bind right now.”

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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