While Estonia's population declined by about 0.27 percent in 2014, the northeastern city of Narva and Ida-Viru County both experienced a 1.7 percent drop, uudised.err.ee reported.
Narva, a city of around 60,000 and the country's third-largest, shed 900 people, while Ida-Viru County lost 2,600 of its 150,000 people to emigration and due to deaths outstripping births.
But city secretary Ants Liimets told ERR it's not the worst he's seen.
"I know for a fact that in one year in 1993 the population dropped 10,000. Considering the city's demographic structure, there's not that much to be done - births do not make up mathematically for the number of deaths."
Liimets says the 50,000 mark would not be reached before 2028 at the current rate of decline.
But there is also a realization that a reason for the decline lies in the exodus of working-age people to brighter places.
Ida-Viru industrial area development foundation director Teet Kuusmik, whose goal is to create 4,400 jobs in the county in the next four years, says that the population figures would not be an impediment to establishing new industrial parks. There are still workers to be found in the county, he maintains, saying that plans from corporations to expand into the county show that there are untapped human resources, and that the wage level has not yet reached that of the capital region.
County Governor Andres Noormägi has called for extending offers to migrant workers. Noormägi mentioned Ukraine as a possible source of workforce.
The region is often associated with a high percentage of Russian-speakers (95 percent in Narva and 80 percent in the county as a whole) and heavy industry. Besides mining sites and concrete jungles, it also has some of the country's best beaches and natural areas.
Jüri Nikolajev, K. Rikken
Narva population decline 6 times higher than national average (1)