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Population Growth: Legislators must spur job growth

If West Virginia legislators about to begin their annual regular session need any reason to pursue economic development initiatives, a new national population report provides it.

From 2018 to 2019, the nation’s population increased by nearly 0.5 percent, or about 1.5 million people, the Census Bureau reports. Even though that is the slowest growth rate in a century, birth rates and influxes of people in nearly every state helped them gain population.

Nearly, but not all. In four states, deaths outnumbered births. They were Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont — and West Virginia. Too many people in our state lack confidence in the future to have children. Too few people want to come here — or stay here.

Time and again during a West Virginia Press Association event last week to look ahead at the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers talked about the need to attract employers; to create jobs; to make West Virginia a place people want to live and grow families.

State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, went so far as to suggest lawmakers will need to have some political “fortitude” in making decisions that do not reflect the way things have always been done in our state.

Though it is not the only thing that MUST change in our state, the lack of good jobs is a big part of the problem. Clearly, then, legislators need to do what they can to make the Mountain State more attractive to providers of good new jobs.

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