West Virginia is a state in the Southern United States with a population of 1,829,054 and land area of 24,038 square miles. It ranks as the 13th smallest state by population and the 10th smallest state by area.
Race and Ethnicity
According to the most recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, 92.10% of state residents identify as white, 3.60% as Black or African American, 0.20% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.80% as Asian, 0.00% as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 1.50% as Hispanic or Latino, and 1.80% as some other race or combination of races.
Nationally, some 61.1% of Americans identify as white, 12.3% as Black or African American, 0.7% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 5.4% as Asian, 0.2% as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 17.8% as Hispanic or Latino, and 2.6% as some other race or combination of races.
Census respondents are also asked to report ancestry. Some of the most commonly reported ancestries in West Virginia include German, Irish, American, English, and Italian. Measured by location quotient -- comparing the state share to the national share -- some of the most highly concentrated ancestries in West Virginia are Scotch-Irish, American, and Welsh.
Native and foreign-born population
An estimated 98.40% of West Virginia residents are native-born, meaning they were born in the United States, Puerto Rico, a U.S. Island Area, or abroad to a U.S. citizen.
Of the 1.60% of the population that is foreign-born, 50.70% have become naturalized U.S. citizens. Nationwide, 86.5% of Americans are native-born. And of the 13.5% of Americans who are foreign-born, 48.8% have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
The population of West Virginia is older than the United States as a whole. The median age in the state is 42.4 years old, 4.5 years more than the national median age of 37.9 years. An estimated 18.80% of the population is 65 years and over, compared to 15.2% of the U.S. population.
Family and household composition
Family and household composition also varies heavily across the United States. In West Virginia, 48.80% of households are occupied by married-couple families, compared to the 48.3% national figure. Some 4.70% of households are occupied by single male householders, 11.20% by single female householders, and 35.20% by non-family occupants. Nationwide, 4.9% of households are occupied by single male householders, 12.6% by single female householders, and 34.3% by non-family occupants. An estimated 72.90% of heads of household own their homes, compared to the national homeownership rate of 63.8%.
As is the case across the United States, English is the most commonly spoken language in West Virginia. Of the 1,729,800 people aged 5 and up living in West Virginia, 99.3% speak English exclusively, or, if they are multilingual, speak English very well. Not only is English the predominantly spoken language in the state, its usage is even more common than it is nationwide where an average of 91.5% of the 5 and older population only speaks English, or speak it very well.
Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States. In West Virginia, 1% of the population aged 5 and older speaks Spanish, the 2nd smallest share among all states. Nationwide, 13.3% of all Americans in the same age group speak Spanish.
Residents of West Virginia are more likely to be married than the typical American. Of the 1.5 million West Virginia residents aged 15 and older, 50% are currently married, compared to 48.1% of Americans nationwide in the same age group. Divorceis also more common in the state than it is nationwide. In West Virginia, 13.3% of the 15 and older population is divorced, compared to the 10.8% share of the same age group across the U.S. as a whole.
An estimated 27.4% of West Virginia residents 15 and older have never married, compared to one-third of Americans in the same age group.
In West Virginia, 9.2% of the 18 and over population are veterans -- above the 7.5% of adult civilians who have served in the military nationwide. Compared to other states, West Virginia is home to the 12th largest share of military veterans.
As is the case nationwide, the largest share of veterans living in the state served in the Vietnam era. Of West Virginia’s 134,500 resident veterans, 3.7% served in World War II, 39.6% served in the Vietnam War, 18% served in the period between the beginning of the Gulf War and 2001, and 13.7% served since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. An additional 12,500 men and women served during the Korean War.
In West Virginia, adults are less likely to have a high school education than the typical American adult, and are also less likely to have a four-year college education. Among West Virginia residents 25 and older, 86.5% have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 20.3% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 87.7% and 31.5% of adults nationwide, respectively.
Though it is not always the case, incomes tend to rise with educational attainment rates across broad populations -- and West Virginia is no exception. With a lower than average bachelor’s degree attainment rate, the state also has a lower than average median income. The typical household in West Virginia earns $44,921 a year, about $15,400 less than the national median household income of $60,293.
Additionally, West Virginia has a lower than average concentration of wealthy residents. An estimated 2.7% of households in the state earn $200,000 or more annually, compared to 7.0% of households nationwide.
With the lower than average median household income, serious financial hardship is more common in the state than it is nationwide. The poverty rate in West Virginia stands at 17.8%, while the national poverty rate is 14.1%.
Read More About Population and Demographics
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