West Virginia is emerging from the Civil War. On June 20, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation admits West Virginia into the Union.
Census records show a 17% increase in West Virginia’s population from 1860 to 1870. Huntington developed from its founding by Collis P. Huntington in 1871 until the flood of 1937 with a final number of residents of about 75,000. World War II brings an industrial boom that lasts until the 1950s. Residence for Huntington and West Virginia peaks in 1950 at 86,353 and nearly 2 million, respectively. Huntington’s population now stands at around 45,000, while West Virginia’s population hovers around 1.8 million.
The nearly 50% decline in Huntington’s residence from the 1950s reflects a decline in industrial manufacturing. The loss of population follows the underemployment of blue collar workers. Companies outsource manufacturing to maximize their profits. Outsourcing comes at the expense of the middle class. The economic turn of the 1980s towards education, tourism, services and health care did not allow a return to the level of occupation of the 1950s.
Maintaining a viable middle class requires a significant investment in vocational training. Skilled workers attract industry, which produces tangible products. Recruit capabilities of Farmers, Plumbers, Electricians, Welders, Machinists, Mechanics, Carpenters, Pipe Fitters, Construction Equipment Operators, Web Designers, Computer Coders, Technicians , among other things to achieve the prosperity of the three states. As Sophocles observes, “Without work, nothing prospers.”