Staff and wire reports
Most large and medium-sized cities in Ohio lost population over the past two years, even as many cities across the country saw gains, according to new U.S. census numbers released Thursday.
The figures show 14 of Ohio’s 15 cities with at least 50,000 people had slight population declines from 2010 to July 1, 2012. During the same period, about 90 percent of the 729 larger cities nationwide had population gains.
Every major city in Ohio except Columbus ranked near the bottom in percentage of population change.
Youngstown showed the biggest drop — the only city in the nation to lose more than 2 percent of its population the past two years.
Ohio’s total population showed a slight gain — 0.1 percent — indicating that more people may have moved from the cities to the suburbs and rural areas.
Medina County mirrored that trend: More than 90 percent of the population growth in the county since 2010 came in its townships and villages.
None of the three cities in Medina County have populations more than 50,000. But the combined populations of Brunswick, Medina and Wadsworth totaled 82,626 — a 0.2 percent increase since 2010.
That compared with much larger increases in the county’s townships and villages.
The county’s 17 townships showed a combined increase of 1.4 percent — more than seven times the cities’ rate.
The county’s six villages combined saw a 1.1 percent increase.
Montville Township gained 166 new residents since 2010 — the most of any township.
York Township had the largest percentage increase, 1.8 percent.
Ohio’s overall population change of 0.1 percent ranked the Buckeye State fifth slowest-growing among the 50 states.
“On average, the U.S. percentage change in population is up 1.7 percent, so we certainly lag behind the national average,” said Wendy Manning, director of the Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University.
Manning gave several reasons why Ohio is growing so slowly.
Ohio, she explained, is “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. I think a real concern is, are states like Ohio losing young population to states in the South and the West?”
The latest census report indicates that’s true. 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.
The new report estimated Cleveland’s population at 390,928 — nearly 6,000 fewer than in 2010 and a drop of 1.5 percent.
Other area cities, including Akron, Canton, Lorain and Elyria, all saw smaller declines in population, ranging from 0.8 percent to 0.3 percent.
Columbus’ population was up 2.7 percent, making it the 278th fastest-growing city in the country.
The census bureau said the estimates are based on collected vital statistics, including birth, death, tax, Medicare enrollment and building permit records.