DAYTON — 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 out this week.
The figures show that 14 out of 15 Ohio cities with at least 50,000 people had slight population declines from 2010 to July 1, 2012. During the same period, nine out of 10 of the 729 larger cities nationwide had population gains.
The Dayton Daily News reported that every major city in Ohio except Columbus ranked near the bottom in percentage of population change. Youngstown was listed last — the only city in the nation to lose more than 2 percent of its population the past two years.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Elyria lost 0.8 percent of its population; Lorain 0.6 percent; and Cleveland 1.5 percent.
Ohio's total population, however, showed a slight gain — 0.1 percent — during that period, indicating more people may have moved from the cities to the suburbs and rural areas, said Wendy Manning, director of the Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University.
“But it's still not good to be on the bottom,” Manning told the newspaper. “On average the U.S. percentage change in population is up 1.7 percent, so we certainly lag behind the national average.”
Ohio, Manning 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 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.
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.