Skip to main content

West Virginia losing US House seat, leads country in population decline


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia will lose one of its three U.S. House of Representatives seats following the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 census, which shows West Virginia leading the country in population loss.

Agency officials announced Monday data related to last year’s collection efforts, noting West Virginia’s population decreased by nearly 65,000 people between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. The Census Bureau estimates the state’s population last April was around 1.8 million.

West Virginia, Illinois and Mississippi are the only three states with an estimated population loss, yet West Virginia’s population declined by 3.2% compared to Mississippi’s 0.2% drop and Illinois’ 0.1% decrease.

The Census Bureau takes the census every decade to determine how many House of Representatives districts for each state. Local, state and federal government offices also use Census Bureau data to decide how to allocate public funding for programs and projects.

West Virginia was expected to lose a House seat because of the state’s population decline; West Virginia had six House districts until the 1960 census when it lost one seat. It later lost seats in the 1970 and 1990 censuses.

According to the Census Bureau, each West Virginia representative will serve 897,523 people compared to the national average of 761,169 Americans per House member. The number of districts in each state is determined by a formula referencing a state’s total population.

If all three of West Virginia’s current House members — Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller — run in the 2022 election, one contest will involve two current lawmakers in a Republican primary. Election analysis outlet Inside Elections published a hypothetical congressional map last week with West Virginia split into northern and southern districts. Cities in the 1st Congressional District would include Martinsburg, Morgantown and Clarksburg, while Charleston, Huntington and Beckley would be in the 2nd District.

McKinley, of Wheeling, has served in the House since 2011, and Mooney, a Charles Town resident, began his first term in 2015. Miller has served in Congress in 2019.

Offices for McKinley, Mooney and Miller referred to a joint statement by the three saying they will announce their political futures once the West Virginia Legislature approves a new congressional map. The Census Bureau will deliver related data to states by Aug. 16 and have the full redistricting data ready by Sept. 30.

West Virginia will additionally lose one vote in the Electoral College. The number of a state’s presidential electors is related to its House representatives plus two U.S. senators each state has. West Virginia had five electoral votes in the 2020 election.

California, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania are also losing one House seat. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain a House seat, while Texas is getting two new congressional districts.