About the area

Clarksburg is the historic market and business center for north central West Virginia.  It was the center of the earliest settlement of the area.   Bridgeport, Buckhannon, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Grafton, Salem, Shinnston, West Union and Weston are some of the larger towns within a 30 minute drive, and the trade area includes parts of Barbour, Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Lewis, Taylor, and Upshur Counties.   A large retail mall is located at the intersection of I-79 and US 50, between Clarksburg and Bridgeport.  Fairmont State University is in Fairmont, with a new satellite campus in downtown Clarksburg.  The Criminal Justice Information System Division of the FBI was formed in 1991 and located in Clarksburg, next to Bridgeport and about 15 miles from Fairmont.  The I-79 Technology Park is located south of Fairmont near Whitehall, and houses the National White Collar Crime Center, a NASA facility, research and defense contractors, and various projects of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation.  Allegheny Power has announced that it will be moving its headquarters there.  The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center and associated veteran’s nursing home are located in Clarksburg.  United Health Center, the third-largest hospital in West Virginia, is in Clarksburg, and Fairmont General in Fairmont.  The VA Medical Center and UHC both have residency programs.

The Census Combined Statistical Area covers Marion, Harrison, Doddridge and Taylor Counties.  About 30% of the households have children under 18, and about 30% have at least one member over 65.  Over two-thirds of the households are families, 75% of the households own their homes, and less than half of them are mortgaged. 29% of the population are in management or professional jobs and 28% are in sales or office jobs.  About 25% are in educational services, health care and social assistance, 12% in retail, and the rest distributed rather evenly among other industries.  The distribution is similar to the US distribution, except there are more in government and mining, and fewer in manufacturing, scientific and professional, and finance, insurance, and real estate businesses.  43% are not in the labor force, compared to 35% nationally, but this is mainly because more of the population are over 65 than nationally.  Households, children, and adults in poverty are all higher than nationally, except for those over 65, whose poverty rate is about the same.   Poverty levels are slightly higher than West Virginia, again except for those over 65, which are slightly slower.

However, the cost of living in West Virginia metropolitan areas is less than 75% of the national average, and in non-metro areas, less than 65%, mainly because of lower housing prices (for the same age and quality of construction.)  Fewer than 10% of homes in the area are valued at more than $200,000, and the median monthly costs for a home with a mortgage are $854.

If regional price parities are taken into account, the West Virginia adjusted per capita income in 2005 was $34,954, slightly higher than the national average of $34,757, and  $34,954, just slightly lower than the national of $36,714, in 2006. Parities were not calculated for CMSAs, but Fairmont-Clarksburg probably falls between the two.  Per capita personal income for the Clarksburg MSA in 2007 was $30,111 and for Fairmont MSA, $29,849.  Adjusted by the statewide RPP, Clarksburg and Fairmont  would be over $42,000, higher than average for West Virginia and the country ($38,615).  (See the U.S. Bureau of Commerce of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis report on regional price parity.)  Median estimated household income in 2005-07 was $36,304, which would be $51,600 adjusted for parity.  84.7% of those over 18 finished high school, and 42.6% have at least some college, including  6.7% with associate degrees, 11.8% bachelor’s, and 6.7% graduate or professional degrees.  These are higher than the state averages, slightly more people have finished high school than nationally, but fewer have any college or higher degrees. Slightly more of the population reported disabilities in all age ranges than the national average, but slightly less than the state average.

More than half the people in the US have moved since 2000; only 38% of the Fairmont-Clarksburg area have, and almost twice as many (24% compared to 13% nationally) have lived in the same house for more than 25 years.  This is also more stable than West Virginia as a whole.  Only 1% of the population are foreign-born, and 90% were born in West Virginia.  About 2% had moved in from out-of state in the previous year. Of the people who did not identify themselves as simply American (24%) , the largest group is of German descent (21%), then Irish (17%), English (13%), Italian (9%), Scots or Scots-Irish (5%), Dutch (5%), Polish, French, Hungarian, and Welsh.  2% identified themselves as black, and just over 1% as two or more races, mostly white and black or American Indian.  The area was settled mainly by Germans and Scots-Irish, with later immigrations of Irish in the 1850s and Italians, Irish, and Poles after the turn of the 20th century when mining and manufacturing began growing in the area.  The area has a rich religious background, including a late 18th century settlement of English Seventh-Day Baptists from New Jersey, German Seventh-Day Baptists (Dunkers), Brethren, Mennonites, and German Reformed.  The established denominations tended not to send clergy beyond the mountains during the settlement, and so the early churches tended to not to have professional clergy.  There was a strong Universalist movement centered in the Jane Lew area beginning in the mid-19th century.  Most of the population became Methodist or Baptist in the early 19th century.  The Irish, Italian, and Polish immigrations brought Catholics.

In 2000, the four-county area of the Fairmont-Clarksburg CMSA had 34,121 mainline Protestants, almost all United Methodist and American Baptist, 13,461 evangelical Protestants, mainly Churches of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Assemblies of God, and Southern Baptist, and 14,338 Catholics (see the The Association of Religion Data Archives).  There is one Jewish congregation, with about 100 members.  Marion County was much more evangelical, with one in three of the Protestants evangelical, than Harrison, where less than one in five was.  Statewide, about two in five Protestants are evangelicals.  Nationally, there were 40 million evangelicals, and only 26 million mainline Protestants.

There were 85,683 people (adults and children) unclaimed in the CMSA in 2000.  The Methodists lost almost 4,000 members and 9 congregations between 1990 and 2000,  and the Baptists dropped by 3 congregations and about 2,500.  Overall church membership dropped as a percentage of the population. People do not appear to have been shifting denominations, but leaving churches altogether.  The national trend was a sharp decline in membership and identification with a religion in the 1900s, which is continuing at a slower rate since then.

The latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS 2008) has shown an increase in the people who say that they have no religion.  In West Virginia, this increased from 8% in 1990 to 15% in 2008, with another 5% or said they did not know or refused to answer what their religion was.  These percentages are about the national average. According to the survey, “The 34 million American adults who don’t identify with any particular religious group reflect the general population in terms of marital status, educational attainment, racial and ethnic makeup, and income” and “most Nones are neither atheists nor theists but rather agnostics and deists (59%) and perhaps best described as skeptics.” In 2000, the latest county-level data available from the Association of Religious Data Archives, more than half of the population of the area was unchurched; details below.

No-one in West Virginia identified themselves or their spouse as a UU in ARIS 2001.  Nationally, .3% of the population identified themselves as Unitarian or Universalist.  National UU membership in 2000 was only .07% of the population.  So more than 4 times as many people identified themselves as UU as belonged to a UU church.  The Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found .7% of Americans were Unitarian Universalist or other liberal faiths, as did ARIS.  Based on national membership percentages, we would expect at least 1200 UUs in West Virginia.  Based on self-identification, we would expect 5400. In the Fairmont-Clarksburg area, we should have between 100 and 425 UUs.

West Virginia’s percentage of unchurched people is one of the highest in the country, and the percentage of people who identify themselves as having no religion is average for the country.  It is more like Pennsylvania and the Midwest than the South in the importance of religion, with only 60% saying religion is very important in their lives in the Pew Religious Landscape Survey (2007).   The percentage of people who say that they attend church at least weekly is about the same as the percentage of church membership, but much lower (43% to 60%) than those who say religion is very important.  (This is also true nationally.)  More people pray daily in West Virginia than say religion is very important, which is not true nationally, and many more pray daily than attend church weekly or more.

53% of West Virginians believe the Bible is the literal word of God, many more than are church members, and many more than nationally, where only 33% are literalists.  Paradoxically, 64% believe that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion,  and on whether there is one true faith, 70% say that “Many religions can lead to eternal life,” both about the national average.

Unclaimed by churches in 2000
(This is the population of each county in 2000 less the numbers of members and children reported by churches in the county.)

Barbour 11,226
Doddridge 4,953
Harrison 37,617
Lewis 10,782
Marion 32,300
Taylor 10,813
Upshur 16,975

Barbour County Demographics

Barbour County Religion

Doddridge County Demographics

Doddridge County Religion

Harrison County Demographics ACS 2008
Harrison County Religion (2000)

Lewis County Demographics

Lewis County Religion

Taylor County Demographics

Taylor County Religion

Marion County Demographics
Marion County Religion

Upshur County Demographics

Upshur County Religion (2000)

One thought on “About the area

  1. Good stuff here. We will be pulling stuff together again for our planning session. Like your resources. One resource we have here is called Healthy Carolineans. Each County does one every couple of years. Looks at statistics on hunger, children, youth, etc. Very well done and very helpful in identifying community issues.


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