Population Loss in Weirton and Steubenville due to Loss of Industry
There are five metropolitan statistical areas at least partially in West Virginia that are among the worst in the country for a declining population. The Weirton-Steubenville metropolitan area ranked sixth on the list, with a 4.9 percent decline since 2010. Mayors for both cities claim the shrinking population is due to the decline of industry in the area. They are hopeful recent and upcoming development in the industrial sector could slow, stop, or reverse this trend. Steubenville Mayor Jerry Barilla has lived in the area his entire life, and has noticed the region’s decline. When industry leaves, people will move to follow the jobs.
Weirton Mayor Harold Miller retired from the Weirton Steel Mill in 2000, and while retiring, he saw the decline of industry in the area. Much of the decline is due to the decline of the steel industry, which has affected the entire tri state area. Barilla identified the proposed PTT Global Chemical America/Daelim Industrial Corp. ethane cracker facility as a potential engine of industry, stating that the Ohio Valley has a lot to offer, with its location and access to the Ohio River and railroads. His hope is that businesses will look at the Ohio Valley and decide to relocate there, leading to an increase in job opportunities and employment.
Weirton is trying to target two demographics to reside in the area: older people and millennials. Older Americans might find it easier to live on a one floor ranch style house, and right now, these homes are on the market for less than 24 hours. Millennials are also targeted with a combined retail and housing area. When leaving school, millennials are not able to afford a house and many people choose to live in Weirton instead of Pittsburgh because of the lower cost of living. Building up the area and providing affordable and accessible housing options could help revitalize the area.