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Census Dying Counties

In this Feb. 9, 2011, file photo, a coal truck drives out of downtown Welch, W.Va. A record number of U.S. counties _ more than 1 in 3 _ are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs elsewhere. New 2012 census estimates highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression. In the last year, Maine joined West Virginia as the only two entire states where deaths exceed births, which have dropped precipitously after the recent recession.

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