Most of Ohio’s large and medium cities have experienced slight population declines over the past two years at a time when most cities nationwide have grown, according to Census estimates released today.
Of the 729 cities nationwide that have more than 50,000 residents, nine of every 10 gained population from 2010 to July 1, 2012, according to the new Census data.
But in Ohio it was the reverse, as 14 of the state’s 15 largest cities lost population in that same period. Every major Ohio city except Columbus ranked near the bottom in percentage population change, with Youngstown listed dead last at 729th in the Census estimates, the only city in the nation to lose more than 2 percent of its population the past two years.
Wendy Manning, director of the Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green, said the news for Ohio isn’t all bad, as the total population of the state grew 0.1 percent in the same two-year period, meaning more people may be moving from cities to suburbs or rural areas.
“But it’s still not good to be on the bottom,” Manning said. “On average the U.S. percentage change in population is up 1.7 percent, so we certainly lag behind the national average.”
The Census Bureau estimated Dayton’s population for July 1, 2012 at 141,359 – down from its estimate of 141,713 in 2011, and from the 2010 Census “estimates base” of 141,762.
That estimated decline of 0.3 percent (403 residents) matched Kettering, which dropped from 56,163 in 2010, to 56,096 in 2011, to 55,990 in 2012.
“We’re not as much of a draw for immigrant groups … we’re more of an aging state, and we don’t have a real high birth rate,” Manning said of Ohio. “I think a real concern is, are states like Ohio losing young population to states in the south and the west?”
Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley said jobs are the key to the population changes, pointing out that almost all of the cities losing significant population (17 of the bottom 20) are in the Midwest, where the auto manufacturing industry has suffered.
“We’re doing what we can,” she said. “We can do things about being an open, vibrant community, being progressive on issues like the immigrant-friendly stuff, but at the end of the day, if we don’t have job creation here, then we don’t have people staying.”
Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland echoed Whaley’s jobs focus as his city’s population dropped 0.8 percent from 60,608 to 60,147 in 2012. Hamilton and Middletown lost an estimated 70 and 3 residents, respectively, and their mayors were upbeat about population stabilizing.
The fastest-growing cities in the nation the past two years were small cities in the south and west, according to the Census estimates, with suburbs of Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, Texas taking five of the top seven spots. The seven cities that had the worst population loss by percentage were Cleveland, Youngstown and five Michigan cities, including Detroit.
Percent population gain 2010-12 (Back to top)
1. Cedar Park, Texas, 12.0
2. San Marcos, Texas, 11.4
3. South Jordan, Utah, 10.9
278. Columbus, Ohio, 2.7
663. Hamilton, Ohio, -0.1
672. Cincinnati, Ohio, -0.1
681. Akron, Ohio, -0.3
682. Dayton, Ohio, -0.3
684. Kettering, Ohio, -0.3
691. Canton, Ohio, -0.5
695. Lorain, Ohio, -0.6
703. Springfield, Ohio, -0.8
705. Elyria, Ohio, -0.8
711. Toledo, Ohio, -1.1
713. Parma, Ohio, -1.2
721. Lakewood, Ohio, -1.4
723. Cleveland, Ohio, -1.5
727. Detroit, Mich, -1.7
728. Flint, Mich, -1.9
729. Youngstown, Ohio, -2.4
Source: Census estimates of cities with more than 50,000 population