The Associated Press
PIKEVILLE - The population in Kentucky's eastern coalfield may be stabilizing after the loss of thousands of people who moved away in search of work in the 1990s.
The U.S. Census Bureau released estimates Thursday that show population increases in most of the coal-producing counties in the region, including eight of the 12 counties that rely most heavily on mining for jobs.
"This could be an early statement that the hemorrhaging has stopped, or at least slowed," said Ewell Balltrip, executive director of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission. "When you're talking about population loss, any upward change, no matter how modest, is truly positive."
Kentucky had population increases in 96 of its 120 counties from July 1, 2001, to July 1, 2002, according to Census Bureau estimates
. Counties with the largest increases were on the outskirts of metropolitan areas. Boone County had a 3.6 percent increase.
Farming communities suffered the largest losses. Fulton County led the state with a 2.7 percent decline, followed by Christian County with a 1.4 percent loss and Gallatin with 1.2 percent.
Overall, Kentucky grew by 24,075 or 0.6 percent, up from 4,068,815 to 4,092,891 for the period.
"The good news is that we're in a state of growth, instead of having major out-migration," said Ron Crouch, director of the State Data Center at the University of Louisville.
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