COLUMN: Huntington Recognized As 2nd poorest Place In West Virginia

Updated 4 weeks ago
COLUMN: Huntington Recognized As 2nd poorest Place In West Virginia

by Mark Caserta

Population decline is arguably the most prominent metric for determining the socio-economic stability of any state or city across America. And Huntington, West Virginia, once again, is being recognized for all the wrong reasons.

Per recent United States census estimates, Huntington, the 2nd largest city (based on 2017 estimates) in West Virginia is losing its population at an alarming rate. I will go further to speculate that if this metric could somehow be modified to reflect the ratio of people who left our community who were contributors to our economy versus the incoming ones who incessantly “make withdrawals” on our economy, the attrition rate would reveal a much greater negative impact to our city.

According to recent estimates, Huntington started the decade with an estimated 49, 153 people. By 2018, the number had fallen six percent to 46, 048.

Based on data from the American Community Survey, the average size of a household was around 2.21 persons with a median “household” income of around $30,359.

The survey went on to rate the top ten poorest places in the Mountain State for 2019. It’s not surprising to those paying attention or being impacted by our depraved economy, that Huntington is near the top of the list. Very near.

The survey analyzed the most recent data from cities in West Virginia with a population of 5,000 or more people. They arrived at these cities as the poorest places in West Virginia.

  1. Keyser
  2. Huntington
  3. Morgantown
  4. Buckhannon
  5. Grafton
  6. Martinsburg
  7. Moundsville
  8. Parkersburg
  9. Bluefield
  10. Oak Hill

The facts of the survey were very telling, indeed. (The survey is available for viewing at 2013-2017 American Community Survey) The information gathered to declare Huntington as being one of the poorest places in West Virginia, indirectly points to our city as being one of the poorest places in America!

The study examined the poverty level, median household income adjusted for the cost of living and the unemployment rate, as they explain below.

“The “median household income adjusted for the cost of living” attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 27 places with more than 5,000 people in West Virginia, we ranked each place from 1 to 27 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.”

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a “Poor Score” with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Keyser, crowned the “Poorest Place In West Virginia For 2019”.

And Huntington receives a “silver” medal for being the 2nd poorest place in West Virginia. Doesn’t that make you proud!

It should make you angry! Under the direction of our current city leaders, we have experienced a social and economic decline like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime!

At this point, I’m not certain which is happening more rapidly, the loss of economically productive people or the acquisition of people dependent upon our city and our tax dollars.

But I can say without hesitation, both are happening.   And that’s a recipe for disaster. And we appear to be working harder at attracting the dependent folks than we are at retaining those who contribute to a thriving economy.

In what world does that make sense? It seems the only business benefitting from this madness are those who receive government grants or subsidies to support their programs.

Yes, there is certainly a need for these sorts of supportive entities. But the rehab industry cannot and must not be considered a viable replacement for good, living wage paying jobs in manufacturing and infrastructure.

I’m convinced our city leaders are either clueless or unwilling in addressing the problem.

After all, they can simply vote themselves pay increases, while the poor remain poor and without hope.

Oh, you didn’t know? Why, yes! In October, Huntington City Council approved an ordinance to increase the mayor’s salary from $85,000 a year to $114,500 by 2021. That’s nearly a $30,000 increase in 2 years!

Additionally, Council members will be getting about $40 to $50 more each month.

I’m all for pay increases based on performance. But what have they done to deserve these increases? Most people producing their type of results wouldn’t be rewarded, they’d be terminated!

Look around you. It’s obvious our city leaders have been as feckless and ineffective in their duties. And unfortunately, as we continue to be recognized for all the wrong reasons, Huntington will continue to be avoided by businessmen and entrepreneurs like the plague.

Don’t be fooled by a sharp-tongued, political orator in 2020. Vote to return the Jewell City to greatness, before we pass the point of no return.

Comments powered by Disqus