Pendleton County lost 178 residents in 2016, according to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Statistics show that the county’s population stands at just over 7,000 at 7,051, dropping from 7,229 in 2015. In addition, the population of the county has dropped 8.4% since 2010, when the number stood at 7,695.
Pendleton County also dropped on the ranking of lowest populated counties in the state, falling from #5 to #3. Only Wirt and Tucker Counties have smaller population, with 5,806 and 6,926 respectively.
If this trend continues, the population of Pendleton County will dip below 7,000 by this July.
The overall statewide trend follows this pattern. According to the Associated Press, 47 of West Virginia’s 55 counties lost population, with the southern coalfield counties and Kanawha County seeing the most significant decreases. Kanawha saw the largest decrease with almost 2,000 leaving the county.
It’s not all bad news as the Eastern Panhandle has seen a steady increase in recent years, mostly because its proximity to the Washington D.C. area.
This story was updated to include the rankings of lowest populated counties.