(AP) — U.S. Census figures show Appalachian coal-producing counties saw steep population declines last year amid a storm of layoffs in the mining industry.
Figures released Thursday show thousands of residents moved out of southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia in 2015. In West Virginia, nine of the 10 counties that lost the most population were in the state's coal-rich southern region.
McDowell County lost 2.2 percent of its residents to fall below 20,000 in population for the first time since 1900. But McDowell County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Stephanie Addair says the county isn't giving up its fight to bring in jobs.
Virginia's top coal producer, Buchanan County, saw a 1.73 percent population drop, and Kentucky's top coal producer, Pike County, lost 1.66 percent of its residents.