Population and Age in Appalachia

Appalachia had a population of 26.1 million in 2020, a 2.0% increase – or 514,000 more residents – than it had in mid-2010. Though two subregions have experienced growth, most of the Region has lost population and its overall growth is slower than the national average of 6.5%.

The Region’s population is generally aging at the same rate as the nation, with the median age rising to 41.4 years over the 2010-2020 period. However, certain portions of Appalachia are aging faster than others and the nation as a whole. 

Learn more about Appalachia’s basic population and age trends through the charts below.

Population Change

Most of the Region has lost population, with five states – New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia – experiencing losses of at least 3%. However, Southern Appalachia has added residents. In fact, Southern Appalachia’s growth surpassed the national average, reaching 8.6%. Certain counties in Appalachian Georgia grew exponentially, peaking at 14.8%. 

Population Growth

The five states whose Appalachian sections have grown since 2010 were all in the South—Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Appalachian Georgia and South Carolina have grown especially rapidly since 2010.

Population Distribution

Population Change

Age Breakdown

Like the United States as a whole, Appalachia’s population became older between 2010 and 2020. The median age of the Region’s population is 41.4 years. The share of Appalachia’s population under age 18 and the share of adults ages 25 to 64 are both more than a full percentage point lower in mid-2020 than they were in mid-2010.  

Minority Population

Minorities make up a small but growing share of Appalachia’s population. The Region’s population is 19.7% minority while the national rate is 40.3%. 

Minority Population by Group

10.0%
African Americans
5.6%
Hispanics/Latinos
4.1%
Other